Attorney Stephen "Buzz" Durio officially announced his candidacy for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal at a press conference this morning. An Opelousas native, Durio is a partner and founder of the Lafayette law firm Durio, McGoffin, Stagg and Ackermann. The Republican is running on 33 years of law experience, where he has represented clients ranging from small business to banking to insurance defense. This is Durio's second bid for public office: He ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2004, losing a runoff election to Joel Robideaux.

Durio joins a field that already includes two other Republicans, District Judge Phyllis Keaty and attorney Jeanne Laborde, and independent City Court Judge Francie Bouillion. The candidates are vying to fill a vacancy on the court created by the death of Judge Mike Sullivan late last year. The special election is October 2, with a runoff, if necessary, in November. Qualifying will be held in July.

In the campaign announcement posted on his Web site, Durio says he consulted with many colleagues, friends and family before reaching the decision to run for office. "Legal reading and writing, and legal analysis and debate, are some of my best skills and most enjoyable experiences," he says. "Many say I am even better suited to this judicial position than to the long and rewarding career I’ve already had as a lawyer in private practice." He also references his opponents, noting, "a judicial election is not purely political. It may be easier to vote for a lawyer who is already a sitting judge, but justice is too important to vote with only that in mind. Even friendships and old acquaintance must be measured against experience and qualification, especially in a small district like this one, where all the candidates are friends, and especially for a judicial election ... we need an honest and courageous evaluation, and a vote for the lawyer most qualified – by length of practice, breadth of experience, professional achievement, and a temperament matured by adversity among equals – to do the very best job."

The Court of Appeal is the intermediate appellate court in Louisiana's three-tiered court system. It does not hear witnesses and does not accept new evidence. The largest of five intermediate appellate courts in Louisiana, its territory consists of 21 parishes in southwest and central Louisiana. There are 12 judges, including a chief judge, sitting on the Third Circuit. They are each elected from a voting district in the court's territory.

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