Vote On November 3rd

Announcement of Candidacy

These are perilous times. I believe we truly are fighting for the soul of America. For more than four hundred years we have been working to fulfill the dream of being one united nation. . . a nation where every person enjoys the right to pursue his or her dream planted deep in their soul on the day of their birth… a nation where everyone is protected by the same rule of law, laws that are written by people we elect and rules that are published for all to know, rules that are cited in courts, rules on which we can all depend…..We detest the thought of being ruled by the whims or follies of any individual or authoritarian regime……We dream of a nation where everyone is treated equally when it comes to educating our children, applying for a job, buying a home, being sentenced if we have been found guilty of committing a crime.

You may be thinking. “what do these dreams have to do with the office of Caddo Parish District Attorney?” I suggest that any leader who wants to take on the role of district attorney in a parish as large as Caddo, in a time as chaotic as 2020, better have a good idea of where we’ve been and where we’re headed. The majority of people in the 21st Century have the ability to know what’s going on in any part of our nation with the click of a cell phone or the tap on a computer keyboard. The actual murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day was watched all over the world within days after it happened. His death not only aroused the passion of Americans, his voice aroused the passion of citizens living oceans away. The folks in Caddo Parish can pretend nothing east of the Red River and west of the LA/TX line or north of the LA/AR line really matters, but that just isn’t true now, and it never was.

We are all interconnected. We depend on one another. We care about one another. Until COVID 19 hit, we were constantly traveling to and from towns, states and even countries. We cannot continue to have our Caddo Parish prosecutor’s office run as if we were still the middle of the 20th Century. In today’s world, that is ancient history. Do we want businesses, companies, well-educated and highly-trained people to move here and become residents? Do we want our children to remain here after they complete their college educations or technical training? If so, we better let the country know we have a new, progressive, and bold district attorney who is a real problem solver. We need to promote the way the prosecutor’s office works together with law enforcement and social services and with faith communities and school boards. No one official can make the needed changes alone. It takes a united front. But we do need a district attorney who is not afraid to speak truth to power and who is able and willing to work with others in positions of authority in our community.

Do we want people to associate the name Caddo Parish as the “county” that puts more people on death row than any place else in our country? Do we want to be known as the “tough on crime county” that has one of the highest per capita rates of incarceration in the country/world? Does anyone really think that sets us apart as a place where people will desire to move? Caddo Parish has been losing significant numbers of residents over the last several years. If we don’t find something big to brag about, that trend will not change. 

We must start publicizing the way we are uniting as a community to re-imagine our criminal justice system in a way that will not lead people to the conclusion that we are a city of thugs and murderers. That is not who we are. A small number of our people have given our whole community a bad name because our prosecutor has let that happen. 

I pledge to focus prosecutions on violent crimes which generally involve dangerous weapons–mainly, guns. I will rely on the book Bleeding Out written by Thomas Abt and published late last year. The book discusses the devastating consequences of urban violence. The best part about the book, is that it contains concrete, bold, new plans based on firsthand experiences. And even better, many of those plans don’t require the passage of new laws or the burden of budget increases..

I will also rely on the work of “The Justice Collaborative” briefing papers sponsored with the support of the Brennan Center for Justice. I have used their briefing paper titled “21 PRINCIPLES FOR THE 21st CENTURY PROSECUTOR” as the basis for my platform which you can find on my website. 

I take no credit for coming up with the 21 principles which I use in my platform. That is all the work of a collaboration of brilliant minds working together with the goal of presenting material that will generate conversation, creative thinking and change.

I have also spent considerable time researching studies released as part of our own “Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force.” It surprised me that such a well done report has had so little publicity in our parish. It should have been used as a starting point for meaningful discussions by multiple stakeholders. 

Another source I believe is well worth our time to study and discuss is the work of the “Institute for Innovation in Prosecution” ( the IIP) at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Their briefing papers in “Re-imagining the Role of the Prosecutor in the Community” contain a wealth of information that should be of keen interest to those of us trying to improve our criminal justice system in Caddo Parish.

A project which has had considerable impact in New Orleans is the “Vera Institute of Justice.” Responsible for many studies, one that struck me as particularly important showed that the financial burden of New Orleans’ criminal justice system fell mainly on poor and low-income residents of the city, most of whom are black. 

Anecdotal accounts revealed that on a daily basis mothers and grandmothers were forced to choose between paying bail for someone they love and paying rent or utilities. For many bail is completely out of reach. Fathers had to choose between paying off criminal justice debts or providing basic necessities for their children. These situations arise on a daily basis right here in Caddo Parish. There is no need for these choices to exist. 

My platform will eliminate bail for nearly all misdemeanors and many felonies. (See platform tab.) The work of “Vera” made it clear that if the “users” of the criminal justice system pay for its operation, ( as can be found in Caddo Parish too) a serious toll is levied on individuals, families, and whole communities.

I mention these books, briefing papers, and studies as only a sampling of what is out there for a progressive prosecutor to be investigating. We should have had groups working on digesting this research for years. I know of no groups doing so in our parish. I have made attempts to speak with leaders of our law enforcement agencies with no success. The same is true with the Mayor’s office. What we have here is a group of leaders that like the “status quo.” They neither see the need for, nor personally want, any change whatsoever. Gen.Russel Honore (the hero of Hurricane Katrina stories) would describe this situation as “Stuck on Stupid,” the partial title of one of his latest books, Don’t Get Stuck On Stupid (which I highly recommend .)

Ours is a system created by humans – though I believe divinely inspired. We humans are all flawed. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that our legal system itself has been infected with flaws during the four hundred years of its existence. That does not mean that we should accept any of those flaws as necessary evils. It is our duty to identify these flaws, root them out, and eliminate them from our divinely created system.

In the year 2020, it has now devolved upon us, you and me, our families, our neighbors, our friends, and yes, even our adversaries, to stop and evaluate what kind of stewards we are when it comes to caring for our amazing and blessed earth and our democracy and each other.

Fate has decreed that our entire planet must pause in the year 2020 to re-think and re-imagine what future we want to leave to our children and our children’s children.

Patricia Gilley and Mark Watson

A raging pandemic covers our entire planet and is taking the lives of thousands of humans every single day. We have no idea when it will end. In developed countries lost souls are dying isolated from the loving presence of family and friends. They are hovered over by alien-looking forms who put their own lives on the line to care for their patients. We can’t even gather for the burial rituals so important in most of our cultures. In undeveloped countries we can only imagine the horrors lived each day as entire communities are devastated and sometime decimated.

We have been forced to isolate from one another – foregoing gathering with our families and loved ones for months at a time. The joys of celebrating milestone events, long in the making, must be experienced alone. The fun and merriment of sporting events have been put on hold. The nurturing of our souls by gathering together for prayer services is limited. This isolation is contrary to the very core of what makes us human.

It is believed in many faith communities that God knew it was not good for Adam to be alone, and so He created Eve. Perhaps God Himself felt something was missing when He had only angels around Him. Many believe God created man in his own image and likeness. Dare we wonder in humility that such “desire for others to share love” could be the reason for our very existence?

Aloneness, isolation, solitary confinement … these are the ultimate punishment in our penal institutions reserved for the most incorrigible of prisoners. So it is not surprising that we are all so disturbed by the lives we are now living – isolated and alone.

Though denied by some, the majority of scientific scholars agree that modern man has been destroying the balance of life on our planet for decades. We are reaching a point where life, as even our grandparents knew it, is dying. We are poisoning our air, our water and our soil at breakneck speeds. What, as a child, you and I believed was science fiction, is now our reality.

We are seeing countries divert money from improving things on planet earth, to exploring faraway planets in hopes of finding resources on our moon, or Mars, or Venus, to replace what we have destroyed in our own backyards. Climate change keeps us terrified of the next major hurricane, or life changing fires, or the lack of water in our lakes, rivers, and underground aquifers – or too much water in our oceans. We see great cities of the world slowly being overtaken and submerged by ever-encroaching waters due to melting arctic ice. If crimes are involved in any of these horrors, they should be prosecuted by any leader with the authority to do so.

We see police brutality and racial discrimination taking place in our country in real time. This was not news to many Americans. Members of our black community have known systemic racism since the very birth of our nation. Some of us in the legal profession have also known of it for generations. We have tried to call it out. Our legislative and judicial branches were slow to correct these flaws by way of the great plan of governance by rule of law. Thankfully much advancement has been made as we take stock of life in the 21st Century. But much more remains to be done as we continue the challenge of creating a more perfect union.

Because of the COVID 19 pandemic, our economy is in a shambles. Those working for poverty wages are being asked to put their lives on the line as “essential” workers who head to work for the common good. As a result they suffer the ravages of COVID 19 in numbers significantly higher than the “non-essential” workers who work from their homes and who often aren’t even willing to wear a face mask to help defeat the great coronavirus.

Millions of people are now unemployed. Thousands of businesses (large and small) are being closed and permanently shuttered. In the meantime, too many of those legislators we elected to care for and nurture our great democracy continue socializing with their affluent friends and can’t be bothered to stay at their desks and help find a way out of this disaster.

Can you sense where I’m headed with this message? I hope it is becoming apparent to you that we – you and I – are the ones who are going to turn this great ship of state around.

Earlier this year I saw a pendant (shaped like a dog tag), for sale in the National Public Broadcasting magazine. It said: “Fate whispered to the warrior; you cannot withstand the storm. The warrior whispered back, I am the storm.” I bought that pendant and I wear it every day.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are the warriors. We are the storms those in power fear. They know we can take back our towns, our parishes, our states and our nation. We can come at them like the worst hurricane that ever hit Louisiana; we can come at them like the great pandemic, COVID 19 itself.

You and I can and must work together, talk together, imagine together. If we put our minds together we can re-create a community where people of all colors, all religious beliefs, young and old, rich and poor, intellectually brilliant as well as those with special needs . . . each and every one of us can and must be heard. We all must be part of the solution. We each have a story to tell. We each have a piece to add to the mosaic which can be the newly, re-imagined, Caddo Parish.

I promise you, I will not be a “figurehead” prosecutor. I will be an “action figure” prosecutor. You will come to know me and what I stand for. I will come to know you and what your needs are. Together we can make positive change happen.
I ask that you please take time to read my platform? I know it’s a long list. But I believe it’s time to dream big. We cannot settle for mediocrity. We must be decisive and persistent. If you merely want to maintain the “status quo,” vote for the incumbent. I’m pretty sure nothing new will be happening in the prosecutor’s office in the next six years if you do so.

My ideas of leadership are much different. I believe my ideas are fresh and progressive. I know many of the planks in my platform are already being successfully implemented in communities across our great land. We must at least try.
At 72, I have no desire to run again in six years. I will give you my best effort now. That is all God asks of me; and that is all that I can pledge to do for you.

Meet Patricia

The Episodes of My Life

1948-1966: Growing up in a small, rural community in north-central Illinois was the perfect place for my outdoor, tomboy spirit. The oldest of 5 siblings, I was “deputy mom” as we roamed the 10 acres of landscaped yard and woodlands and creek where the deer and foxes, raccoons and squirrels, and a plethora of birds and other animals played. No complaints of any kind from me. My dad was a “street lawyer” in the “Land of Lincoln” who covered half a dozen counties in his practice. My mom was his sole office support staff. She literally ran the office and probably could have passed a bar exam herself. But she was too busy also raising kids. A graduate of Albion College in Michigan, she was like a fish out of water in small town, Streator, Illinois. She focused on her kids and made sure we all gave 100% of whatever it was we were supposed to be doing.

1966-1970: College! Two years at Illinois Valley Community College located 30 minutes from my home prepared me perfectly for a transition in 1968 to Champaign-Urbana and the University of Illinois. What excitement for this country gal. Tumultuous times, indeed, as those were the days of the Viet Nam War, flower children, “women’s lib” and more excitement than I had ever imagined.

1971-1980: Married the handsome ROTC cadet I met at the university and immediately became a “D/W” which military gals will know as a “dependent/wife” …yes, that connotation did disturb me a time or two. The first assignment was in Plattsburgh, NY. Landscape beyond my dreams! We saved our money and in 1974 my husband was able to qualify for an Air Force “extended leave” program. We entered law school together at LSU-BR. We shared books and had our own “study group,” graduating in 1977.

Harold was then assigned to the JAG office at England AFB in Alexandria, LA We bought our first home and I got my first job as an attorney–law clerk for Judge William A. Culpepper of the Third Circuit Court of Appeal. Two years later (1979), a change of location again. This time we moved to Anchorage, Alaska and Elmendorf AFB. I quickly got a job with the Federal Bureau of Land Management as a “land law examiner.” In February of 1980 we became parents for the first time. I was mesmerized by my bundle of joy and began my 10-year sabbatical as a “stay at home mom.”

1981-1986: In December 1981 we became parents again. Now we were blessed with a son and daughter. By then we had bought a home in the community and did our best to act like “Alaskans.” We spent 5 years and one day in Alaska and cherish those memories. What a glorious land! Each year included a flight back home to Illinois to visit our families–especially the grandparents.

In 1984 Harold became the SJA at Hanscom AFB in Lexington, Massachusetts. Another move. He left several months ahead of the children and I so that I could deal with selling our home and packing things up to ship by boat from Alaska to the port in New Jersey…. a daunting challenge for a mom with two and 4-year olds in tow.

Once again we loved our assignment at a perfectly beautiful base set between Concord and Lexington, MA. While we were living in base housing, we were half a block from the road which the Minute men trod to get from the Lexington Square to the Old North Bridge. We exposed our pre-schoolers to as much history as we possibly could. I had found yet another house for us to buy and call “home.” This one was in Chelmsford, MA. We lived in it for 15 months loving the first little K-5 class for our firstborn, loving our Catholic church, trying to act like “New Englanders.” But then it was time to move again.

In the summer of 1986 Harold was assigned to Barksdale AFB and we moved to Shreveport, Louisiana. Again, we sold the last and bought another house which quickly became our “home.” We made it our job to make our children feel we were part of each community we lived in, not just transients moving through.

We had our third child in 1987 and Harold retired in 1990.

1990-2020: The past 30 years have been a blur. I have no idea where the time went. For my husband and me, raising our three children has been our most rewarding accomplishment. We have always been a close family and still are. We now have three amazing grandchildren who delight us even more than our own children have.

Raising children is a learning experience both challenging and frightening. We all want “what’s best” for them – whatever that might mean. Our hearts go out to the parents who are now having to decide what to do with the education of their school age children amidst COVID 19. My husband and I became part of the “sandwich” generation in 2003 when we moved my mother from Illinois to live with us in our home when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. That was another learning experience that no one is really ever prepared for. We had the peace and joy of having Mom with us for 7 ½ years. She died two weeks before Christmas in 2011 peacefully at home midst the glory of all that is the Gilley Family Christmas. I absolutely know she was happy till the last day she was with us on this earth.

Two days after mom’s death in December 2011, I was thrown a Hail Mary pass by the U. S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal. A case in which I had been appointed to defend an indigent defendant had been stalled in New Orleans when I asked for a full court hearing (an en banc hearing) in order to reverse the judgment from our local federal district court. The Appellate Court had split 10-7 but I was on the losing side. To this day there is no doubt in my mind that the situation was totally my mother’s doing. Now that my workload was reduced by her “relocation,” she wanted me to head to the United States Supreme Court and seek a remedy for my unfairly treated client. So that’s what I did.

Despite the nearly unanimous advice I received telling me to give up that silly idea, I persisted. In November 2012 I briefed and then personally argued my case before the United States Supreme Court in Washington D.C. On February 20, 2013, the SCOTUS issued its ruling. I had won in a 6-3 decision. That date is easy to remember as it was our 42nd wedding anniversary.

In that short period of time, I had been at the Supreme Court, turned 65 and received my Medicare card, and became a grandmother for the first time. I don’t think life can get any better than that.

During the past seven years, my husband and I have continued serving the people of northwest Louisiana as we have since 1990. We maintained a policy that anyone who had a legal question could meet with us in our office for thirty minutes free of charge. That policy afforded me the opportunity to really get to know the people whom I now want to serve as Caddo Parish District Attorney.

Many of those people received answers that helped them solve their problem without retaining an attorney. Others were told that while they had a right to pursue a legal issue, it was unlikely it would be worth the money spent. Others did retain us and lawsuits ensued. Some we won; some we lost. But we always gave it our best effort. I have appeared in everything from a “justice of the peace” court, to mayor’s court, to city courts, to multiple State District Courts and State Court’s of Appeals. And as I said earlier, I was successful at the Supreme Court of the United States. I am currently winding down the remaining cases in our office. Several are civil cases dealing with employment discrimination; a federal criminal case; a murder case in Bossier Parish; and a couple of domestic cases dealing with custody of children.

This “mom and pop” practice has given me the opportunity to know exactly the problems faced by the vast majority of folks who live in Caddo Parish. Certainly, the incumbent has spent forty years sitting in one courthouse or another in Caddo Parish where he represented the State and was paid by the taxpayers of this state–or of this parish. That has not been my life.

2020: I have come to the point of retirement from the private practice of law. It is up to the people of Caddo Parish to determine whether they believe my life experiences have prepared me to take on the role of their district attorney. I stand ready to serve you if you so desire.