Judicial Outreach

In addition to their regular judicial duties of signing orders, hearing cases and handling administrative matters, the Judges of the 40th JDC engage in judicial outreach programs for the benefit of the community.

CHARM School

Judge Mary Hotard Becnel established CHARM School for juvenile girls in 2005. This program is sponsored and presented by the 40th Judicial District Court and the St. John the Baptist Parish School System.

Mission Statement

Recognizing that ignorance of basic manners is often the root of bad behavior and lack of respect for persons and property, the Court and School Board jointly undertake to instruct selected female students in a course of basic manners and proper behavior. It is hoped that such instruction will benefit the students in their daily encounters with peers and authority, at home and at school, and that it will prepare them for acting appropriately in the “real world” after graduation.


To provide offending students with alternatives to violent, threatening, disruptive, disobedient, inconsiderate, and other inappropriate behavior through instruction in good manners, by stressing the practical importance of good behavior, and by defining and developing the following:

C Character - all qualities that define good character
H Health - good mental and physical well-being
A Attitude - pleasant, positive attitude about self and toward others
R Respect - for self, others and property
M Manners - basic courtesy and etiquette

Court Referral Criteria

Criminal Offenses

  • Fighting (School or elsewhere)

Status Offenses

  • Ungovernable (Disobedience, etc.
  • Runaway


  • Any type of behavior that the court believes could be altered by the program
  • Any female child for whom the court deems a need for guidance and/or female companionship and/or who would benefit from the classes


  • Female Girls
       Age 10 - 17
  • Parents/Guardians
      Parents/Guardians (preferably mothers or female relatives,
      or fathers if no females available) in attendance with above

      One mandatory class/others discretionary


  • School Board Media Center

Course Schedule

   once per month, after school,
   approximately one and one-half hours

   Spring, 3 classes; Fall, 3 classes

  Topics Addressed

  • Basic: General Behavior/Motivation: Lady v. Woman
    • Basic Manners: Socially acceptable/desirable behavior; Conflict resolution.
  • Beyond Basic, time permitting: Situational Etiquette


  • Judge Mary Hotard Becnel, 40th Judicial District Court
       Subject: Basic Manners and Importance of Being a Lady
  • Ms. Nghana Lewis Gauff, Attorney and Professor of English, Tulane University
        Subject: Conflict Resolution and Interactive Discussion of Behavior
  • Ms. Laurie Adams, Technology Assistant, Laplace Elementary School/Minister
        Subject: Motivational Lecture

Judges in the Classroom

The Louisiana District Judges Association sponsors the Judges in the Classroom program. Judges may be invited to teach a class or classes pertaining to law, court proceedings or other judicial or legal matters.
All of the judges participate in this program.

Courthouse Visits and Law Day

Public school and private school classes, as well as civic organizations, are invited to observe certain court proceedings. Arrangements must be made in advance. Some proceedings are closed to the public, while other proceedings may not be suitable for young children.

During the month of May the court celebrates Law Day. Depending on the theme of Law Day, classes or civic organizations may be invited to participate in Law Day activities, which may include essay or art contests, as well as an invitation to visit the court on that day.

All of the judges participate in these programs.

Guest Speakers

Judges are available to speak to civic groups and clubs. They welcome invitations to speak about the court system, court proceedings or other judicial or legal matters, their court schedules permitting.
All of the judges participate in this program.