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Kernan August Hand, Sr., known as Kernan "Skip" Hand (born December 30, 1945), is a retired state court judge of the 24th Judicial District from Kennermarker in Jefferson Parish, Louisianamarker. A Republican, Hand served in the "Division H" judgeship from the spring of 1994 until his retirement on December 31, 2008. Previously, he was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from District 79 from 1984 until he stepped down to assume his judicial position.

Republican politics

Hand won his legislative seat in the nonpartisan blanket primary held in October 1983, when Edwin Washington Edwards staged his third-term comeback against Republican David C. Treen, then of Jefferson Parish. He won a second term on October 24, 1987. He defeated the Democrat Sal Lejarza, 10,128 votes (82.4 percent) to 2,160 (17.6 percent).

In 1988, Representative Hand was the Republican candidate for the Louisiana Public Service Commission, having been defeated by his legislative colleague and future Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat from Lafayettemarker. Blanco polled 161,270 votes (57.3 percent) to Hand’s 120,392 (43.7 percent). In defeat, Hand won his own Jefferson Parish and the southeastern coastal parishes of St. Bernardmarker and Plaqueminesmarker, formerly the domain of political boss Leander H. Perez.

In 1991, Hand won his third term in the state House by defeating the Democrat Sherry Schneider, 6,473 (61.5 percent) to 4,047 (38.5 percent). When he left the legislature, he was succeeded by a fellow Republican attorney from Jefferson Parish, Danny Martiny, thereafter the state senator from District 10.

Hand won the judgeship in the special election held on March 26, 1994, to fill the vacancy created by the death of Judge Hubert A. Vondenstein (1931-1993), whose service began in 1986. Hand defeated the Democrat Ronald T. Gracianette of Madisonvillemarker, 6,326 (59.2 percent) to 4,363 (40.8 percent).After nearly fifteen years on the bench, Hand was succeeded as judge by the former Democratic State Representative Glenn Ansardi of Kenner, who served from 1986-2008, who ran without opposition in the nonpartisan blanket primary on October 20, 2007.

Each Louisiana legislator is allowed to award a tuition waiver — worth some $17,000 in 1993 - to one student per year at Tulane Universitymarker, under an 1884 law approved when the institution was converted from a public to a private institution. As a legislator, Hand was one of four lawmakers in 1993 found to have given scholarships from Tulane Universitymarker to their own children. The others were Republicans Jim Donelon (later state insurance commissioner) and Ken Hollis, and Democrat Steve Theriot of Marreromarker, all in the New Orleans suburbs. Several other legislators admitted having given the scholarships to politically connected applicants. New Orleans' Democratic Mayor Sidney Barthelemy confessed to having given his allotted scholarship to his son.

Selected court cases

Judge Hand presided in his Division H courtroom in Gretnamarker, the seat of government of Jefferson Parish. Several cases attracted considerable media attention. In the 1996 case involving Allen Snyder, an African American former Marine accused of murdering his estranged wife's male companion, Hand permitted the exclusion of two blacks from the jury under the prosecutor's peremptory challenges. After a dozen years, the United States Supreme Courtmarker in 2008 ruled that Hand violated the 1986 precedent, Batson v. Kentucky, which forbids excluding jurors on the basis of race. Only two of the nine Supreme Court judges defended Hand's actions. Dissenting Justice Clarence Thomas said that the high court Court should not "second guess" Judge Hand and claimed that nothing in the record shows that Hand "clearly erred" in allowing the exclusion of two prospective black jurors. Hand's other high court defender was Justice Antonin Scalia.

In 2007, Judge Hand sentenced 22-year-old Terrell Williams of St. Rosemarker in St. Charles Parishmarker to twenty-five years' imprisonment in exchange for his guilty plea to having caused the death of 14-month-old Tyler Cerise. Williams struck the child and his mother, Erin Cerise, with a stolen vehicle at a Wal-Martmarker outlet in Kenner. Jason Cerise, father of Tyler and husband of Erin, said that Williams "destroyed our family that day [and while] he will be sentenced to incarceration today, on that day we were sentenced to a life of agony." Hand's courtroom was the scene of such emotion in the Williams case that the judge, courtroom staff, and prosecutors broke into tears.

In 2004, Hand ordered an expensive growth hormone treatment for an eleven-year-old boy who is shorter than 95 percent of his peers. The father, a Tulane University professor, said he that was unsure if the treatment, estimated at $20,000 annually, would be covered by insurance. Judge Hand cited reports from three physicians who indicated "overwhelming evidence" to support the treatment.

In 2005, federal investigators issued grand jury subpoenas to Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, a Democrat reelected in 2007, and to Judge Hand for records of campaign contributions to Hand from the company, Bail Bonds Unlimited.

Judge Hand today

Judge Hand and his wife, Gloria R. Hand, have at least two sons, Kernan Hand, Jr. (born ca. 1970), an attorney, and David Michael Hand (born ca. 1981).

On September 23, 2009, Judge Hand was unanimously named "hearing officer" by the Jefferson Parish Council.


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