In August of 2014, Judge Karelia R. Stewart was elected without opposition to Section 1, Division D of the First Judicial District Court. By order of the Louisiana Supreme Court, she took the bench in her official capacity on October 1, 2014. She is currently serving in the Family Court Division.
Judge Karelia R. Stewart made history on that day with the following distinctions: she is the youngest female elected without opposition at 35 ever to serve on the First Judicial District Court, she is the second ever African American female elected to the court in its history and the first African American second generation to serve on the court. Judge Stewart was elected to the same seat previously held by her father, Judge Carl E. Stewart, Former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Court and her uncle Retired Judge James E. Stewart, Sr. who is the District Attorney for Caddo Parish. Lastly, she and her father are the only African- American dad and daughter team as sitting judges in the state of Louisiana.
Prior to the bench, Judge Stewart was an Assistant District Attorney for the Parish of Caddo for eight years. She successfully tried hundreds of juvenile cases, felony bench and jury trials. At the time of her departure, she was section chief of the Drug Division and was very instrumental in reviving the rehabilitation program of Drug Court and implementing a Veterans Court.
Judge Stewart formerly served three terms as the Eighth Board District representative on the Louisiana State Bar Association’s (LSBA) Board of Governors, she was the District 8 representative on the LSBA’s Young Lawyers Divisions, and a member of the LSBA’s House of Delegates representing the First Judicial District, Caddo Parish. She is a member of the LSBA’s Committee on the Profession and the Access to Justice Committee. She also served as a panelist in the first Conclave on Diversity in Legal Profession and was a panelist in the first Mini Diversity Conclave in Shreveport.
She is an active member of National Bar Associations Louisiana Judicial Council, the National Association of Women Judges, the American Judges Association and a Master of the Bench in the Harry V. Booth and Judge Henry A. Politz American Inns of Court.
Judge Karelia R. Stewart has received numerous accolades and awards for her contributions to the profession. She was selected by her colleagues and peers to receive the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Young Lawyer’s Sections Honorable Michaelle Pitard Wynne Professionalism Award and a Shreveport Community Award, The Harry Blake Trailblazer Award. Additionally, Judge Stewart was honored by the National Bar Association as a recipient of the Nation’s 40 under 40 Best Advocates and the Excellence in Leadership Award.
In 2019, she was honored with the Excellence in the Judiciary Award by the Women’s Lawyer Division of the National Bar Association. The award was presented on July 23, 2019 in New York City at the National Bar Association’s 94th Annual Meeting. Among a national selection committee, Judge Stewart was one of three judges to receive the award for excellence due to civility and fairness, for her commitment to justice under the law, and contributions to her community. She also received recognition as an active member of the National Bar Association’s Judicial Council.