Sylvia R. Cooks
3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, Lake Charles
HON. SYLVIA R. COOKS was elected in 1992 to serve on the Third Circuit Court of Appeal where she has presided for 16 years. The Third Circuit Court of Appeal encompasses the parishes of Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Cameron, Calcasieu, Catahoula, Evangeline, Grant, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine, St. Martin, St. Landry, Vermilion and Vernon. Judge Cooks attended Thomas Gibbs Elementary School in Glencoe, Louisiana and Franklin High School in Franklin, Louisiana. For the next seven years, she attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Juris Doctorate. She became the first African American to win a place on the LSU Law Review, an honor awarded students who demonstrate high academic achievement. While attending law school, she also was selected as an Earl Warren Fellow and served as a teaching assistant for the United States Council on Legal Education Program. Judge Cooks has built a distinguished career in the legal community of Louisiana as well. To list a few of her accomplishments, Judge Cooks became the first African American in the State’s history to serve as a law clerk for the Louisiana Supreme Court. She received the distinction of “outstanding clerk” during the term that she served. Judge Cooks served as the first African American Assistant District Attorney for the 15th Judicial District, which includes the parishes of Lafayette, Acadia and Vermilion. She served as general counsel for Louisiana Takes A Stand, a statewide organization formed to combat the spread of illegal drugs. Judge Cooks also served as special counsel for the Magnolia State Peace Officers Association which membership includes state police, sheriff, and city police officers and the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, comprised of State Senators and Representatives. Continuing to invest her time in the community, Judge Cooks served as a Trustee on the Lafayette Parish Library Board for five years, vice president of LSU Minority Alumni Association, and a member of the LSU Scholarship Committee. She also served on the State of Louisiana’s Advisory Committee for Women by special appointment of the Governor. She has received special recognition locally and statewide. In addition to such acknowledgments as the Governor’s Outstanding Dedication and Service to the Citizens of Louisiana Award, Judge Cooks has been recognized by the National Association of University Women, The Ladies of St. Peter Claver, the Magnolia State Peace Officers Association, the Southwest Association of Professional Firefighters, Lafayette’s Martin Luther King Parade Association, the American Association of Retired People, The Knights of St. Peter Claver, Delta Sigma Theta, and the Iota Xi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha. She has sponsored, supported and participated in numerous community, State, and church activities, including celebrations honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lafayette Mardi Gras Association annual parade and ball, annual Black History Art Exhibit, Naomi House Women’s Shelter, St. Joseph Diner’s food drive and preparation, Immaculate Heart of Mary and Holy Family annual radio-thon, KJCB’s annual school supply drive, KVOL’s annual tribute to Black role models, Diocese of Lafayette African American Youth Conference, Bench and Altar Conference, Louisiana Marine Finfish Advisory Panel, keynote speaker for Franklin High’s 1994 Graduation Class, Bishop’s Annual Ball, keynote speaker for the annual scholarship program at Greater Beach Grove Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Alexandria Juneteenth celebration, keynote speaker for the annual women’s day programs at Good Hope Baptist Church and the Greenhouse, Keynote Speaker for the Internal Revenue Service Black History program, Coalition of African American Elected Officials, Etches of Ebony Louisiana annual history calendars, LSU Tullis Moot Court competition, speaker for the Lafayette Teen Court, St. Thomas More’s and St. Leo Seton’s annual fundraisers, keynote speaker for the St. Landry Parish Bar Association “Law Day” program, Continuing Legal Education teacher for the State Bar Association Minority Involvement Committee, and inspirational speaker at Holy Ghost Catholic Church of Opelousas. Judge Cooks believes strongly in the value of education. She has attended numerous judicial seminars conducted throughout the country. She also has made numerous appearances at schools in the area to encourage and stand as a shining example to all children that if they try hard enough they will achieve their goals and fulfill their dreams. Just to name a few, Judge Cooks has appeared as a speaker at Lafayette High School, Acadian Middle School, Evangeline Elementary School, N.P. Moss School, St. Leo Seton Elementary School, Acadiana High School, Alice Boucher Elementary School, Paul Breaux Elementary School, St. Antoine Elementary, Holy Family School, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Lafayette Middle School, Truman Elementary School, Vermilion Elementary School, LeRosen Elementary School, and Sugarland Elementary School. Judge Cooks has a Master of Laws in Judicial Process from the University of Virginia where she served as vice president of her class. She currently serves as a board member of the Louisiana Bar Foundation and the Louisiana Center for Law and Civic Education (LCE), a public education partner of the Louisiana State Bar Association. As a member of the Louisiana Bar Foundation, Judge Cooks has chaired or served as board liaison on numerous committees including the Education, Nominating, Judicial Liaison, and Kid Chance committees and Acadiana Community Partnership Panel. She also serves as a member of the Trial Court Committee To Review The Need for Judgeships and the Louisiana Judicial Council New Judgeship Committee. She has served as a member of the Teurlings Catholic School Board. She has lectured and served as a panelist for numerous legal seminars, trial advocacy workshops, and CLE programs including those sponsored by Harvard Law School, University of Virginia Law School, Western New England College School of Law, National Bar Association (Judicial Division), Louisiana State Bar Association, Louisiana Judicial College, Louisiana Judicial Council (NBA), Third Circuit Judges Association and various Parish Bar Associations. She has served as a Louisiana Supreme Court and Appellate Court Moot Court Finals and panel member. She also served by special appointment as an Ad Hoc Judge on the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal.