Chet D. Traylor

Chet D. Traylor
Chet D. Traylor
Louisiana Supreme Court Associate Justice (Place 4)
In office
January 1, 1997 – May 31, 2009
Preceded by Joe Bleich
Succeeded by Marcus R. Clark
Fifth Judicial District Court Judge
In office
Preceded by Sonny N. Stephens
Succeeded by E. Rudolph McIntyre, Jr.
Personal details
Born October 12, 1945 (1945-10-12) (age 66)
Caldwell Parish
Louisiana, USA
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) (1) Name not known

(2) Peggy Marie McDowell Ellington (died 2009)

Children Therese T. Nagem

Leigh T. Liles
Anna T. Holloway

Residence (1) Winnsboro
Franklin Parish

(2) Monroe, Ouachita Parish

Alma mater Caldwell Parish High School

University of Louisiana at Monroe
Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Occupation Judge; Attorney
Religion United Methodist

Chet D. Traylor (born October 12, 1945) is a retired associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court from Monroe, Louisiana, who was defeated in the Republican primary election on August 28, 2010, for the U.S. Senate seat held since 2005 by the incumbent David Vitter of New Orleans. Traylor polled fewer than 10 percent of the ballots cast in a low-turnout election, compared to nearly 90 percent for Vitter.


Early life, education and career

Traylor was born in Columbia, the seat of Caldwell Parish, and graduated in 1963 from Caldwell Parish High School. One of his classmates was future Louisiana Secretary of State Fox McKeithen, son of Governor John J. McKeithen. Traylor served for two years in the United States Army as a military police investigator, having entered as a private and was discharged as a sergeant.[1] In 1969, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in government from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, then Northeast Louisiana University. While at NLU, he was a Louisiana state trooper (Troop F). In 1974, he received his Juris Doctor degree from the Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans.[1]

From 1975-1982, he was an assistant district attorney in Winnsboro, the seat of Franklin Parish located between Monroe and Ferriday. He is a former investigator for the Louisiana Department of Justice Organized Crime and Racketering Unit and a former legal advisor to the Louisiana State Police Narcotics, Detectives and Intelligence units.[1]

Judicial career

In 1985, he was elected to the 5th Judicial District Court, which encompasses in Franklin, Richland, and West Carroll parishes. He remained a district judge until January 1, 1997, after his election the preceding year to the Louisiana Supreme Court, Place 4.[1]

Louisiana Supreme Court

In the nonpartisan blanket primary held on September 21, 1996, Traylor as a Republican unseated the Democrat Joe Bleich of Ruston to win a ten-year term on state Supreme Court. Traylor polled 60,484 votes (53 percent) to Bleich's 53,098 (47 percent). Bleich, a former state representative, had served on the court since 1983.[2] In 2006, Traylor was unopposed for a second term on the court, but he left the position two and a half years later. Marcus R. Clark, a Calcasieu Parish native and a state district judge from Monroe, then won a special election in the fall of 2009 to complete Traylor's term, which expires January 1, 2017.[3][4]

In the 2000 case of State v. Smith,[5] Justice Traylor embraced the view of judicial restraint in authoring the Supreme Court's opinion upholding the constitutionality of the Louisiana sodomy or "crime-against-nature" statute.[6] In his decision, Traylor said that the state constitution must not be manipulated by transient majorities of the judges. Such a view, he said, would create a government by judicial fiat, instead of a constitutional system. "Disaffected groups unable to obtain legislative redress need only convince a majority of this court that what they seek is an implicit 'right' afforded by the Louisiana Constitution. Our constitution wisely provides for separation of powers, and authorizes the legislature to make public policy determinations in this area," Traylor said.[6] Traylor said that the state constitution does not protect "immoral acts . . . Simply put, commission of what the legislature determines as an immoral act, even if consensual and private, is an injury against society," he said.[7]

In 2007, in Cook v. Cook, Traylor concurred in the majority opinion of the Supreme Court that a mother who exposed her children to her lesbian relationship was not entitled to keep custody of those children.[8]

That same year in State v. Bailey (2007), Traylor concurred with the majority in the Jena 6 case that concluded that a white district attorney in La Salle Parish should have recused himself from prosecution of the six African American high school students who attacked a white classmate because the DA's past behavior showed an unwillingness to prosecute whites for similar crimes.[9]

In 2008, Traylor wrote a unanimous court opinion that upheld the constitutionality of two state laws giving homeowners until the fall of 2007 to file lawsuits or claims against their insurance companies over damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The court noted that the extension was for one year and was limited to those two storms.[10]

2010 U.S. Senate race

After the death of his wife Peggy, Traylor relocated from Winnsboro to Monroe to pursue opportunities in the private practice of law. On the last day of qualifying, Traylor announced his challenge to Senator Vitter, who subsequently defeated U.S. Representative Charlie Melancon of Napoleonville in Assumption Parish in the November 2, 2010, general election. Meanwhile, State Representative Ernest Wooton, a registered Republican from 2005–2010 and a resident of Belle Chase in Plaquemines Parish, re-registered to run as an Independent for the Senate in the general election but received little support. A former sheriff, Wooton said that he will conduct a low-budget campaign from a motor home.[11]

Lev M. Dawson (born 1938) of Delhi in Richland Parish, a sweet potato farmer, served as Traylor's Senate campaign manager, a role that he had also filled in the 1996 Supreme Court race. Dawson said that political differences between Traylor and Vitter are comparatively minor but that Traylor opposes an attempt to cap British Petroleum's liability related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.[12]

Dawson said that Melancon "can bring out more of Vitter's problems. There may be other scandals they are saving for the general election. We fear that if Vitter is nominated, we may end up with a Democratic senator." The weaknesses to which Dawson refers is the 2007 revelation that Vitter was a client of the so-called "D.C. Madam," and Vitter's continued employment of aide Brent Furer, who was accused of having assaulted a female friend with a knife and holding her hostage.[12]


Traylor is a founding board member of the Winnsboro Economic Development Foundation. He was formerly a board member of the Winnsboro Lions Club and of the Franklin Parish Mental Health Association. He was the first president of Winnsboro Ducks Unlimited and the founder of John Adams Chapter of Greenwings. He is a life member of the National Rifle Association and holds affiliation with the Rocky Mountain Conservation Fund. He is a member of the United Methodist denomination.[13] He is an honorary member of the Order of the Coif.[14]

Personal life

From a first marriage (wife's name not known), Traylor has three married daughters, Mary Therese Nagem (born ca. 1972) and husband Sammy Thomas Nagem of Baton Rouge, Leigh Lee Liles (born ca. 1978) and husband William Bartlin Liles of Shreveport, and Anna T. Holloway (born ca. 1985) and husband Kyle Everett Holloway of Crowville in Franklin Parish. His second wife was the former Peggy Marie McDowell (1942–2009), who was previously married to State Representative Noble Edward Ellington, II, of Winnsboro, a cotton broker and also a former state senator. Peggy Traylor had two sons, Noble Ellington, III, and Ryan Ellington, both of Winnsboro. She died in August 2009 and is interred at Columbia Hills Cemetery in Columbia.[15]


Peggy Traylor died without leaving a will and her sons, Ryan and Noble Ellington, III, filed suit in June 2010 in Fifth Judicial District Court stating that Traylor has blocked their attempts to collect information on their mother's estate and to take possession of some of her property.[16]

Ryan and Noble Ellington, through attorney Paul Spillers of Monroe, in August 2010 filed a complaint against Traylor with the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board. The brothers allege that Traylor failed to appear at a federal court proceeding after he had been subpoenaed to provide a deposition regarding their mother's estate. The brothers also claim that Traylor knew that the information that he provided about a scheduling conflict with the court was false and asks the disciplinary board to disbar him.[17]

"His conduct destroys the public's confidence in attorneys, our disciplinary system and the Supreme Court of Louisiana. His conduct falls far short of the standard required of an attorney to practice law in this state," according to the Ellingtons' complaint.[17]

State Representative Noble Ellington said that Traylor was "significantly involved" in the divorce of Noble and Peggy Ellington. Peggy later married Traylor and became Peggy McDowell Traylor. Traylor is also currently involved in a romantic relationship with Denise Lively, the estranged wife of his stepson, Ryan Ellington. Lively and Ryan Ellington remain legally married, but both he and Traylor said the Lively-Traylor relationship began while Lively and Ryan Ellington were separated. Traylor began his relationship with Lively a few months after Peggy's death.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d "Chet D. Traylor". Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Louisiana primary election returns, September 21, 1996". Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Louisiana primary election returns, September 30, 2006". electionresults.sos.louisiana. Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  4. ^ Unopposed candidates (Traylor) are not listed in the Louisiana election returns posted by the office of the secretary of state.
  5. ^ State v. Smith 766 So. 2d 501 (La., 2000)
  6. ^ a b [1] [2]
  7. ^ "Queer Resources Directory". Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  8. ^ Cook v. Cook 970 So. 2d 960 (La., 2007)
  9. ^ State v. Bailey 713 So. 2d 588 (La., 2007)
  10. ^ "National Association of Professional Insurance Agents". Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Monroe's Traylor to challenge Vitter". Monroe News Star, July 10, 2010. Retrieved July 10, 2010. [dead link]
  12. ^ a b "Stephen Largen, Chet Traylor: 'If Senator Vitter was in good shape, I wouldn't be running, July 13, 2010". Monroe News Star. Retrieved July 13, 2010. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Supreme Court to Be Held at ULM, March 13, 2003". Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  14. ^ "LSU Law Center: Far More than a Common Law School". Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Obituary of Peggy Marie Traylor". Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b "Complaint filed against Traylor: Senate candidate accused of lying to avoid deposition". Retrieved August 21, 2010. [dead link]
  18. ^

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Joe Bleich
Louisiana Supreme Court Associate Justice, Place 4

Chet D. Traylor

Succeeded by
Marcus R. Clark
Preceded by
Sonny N. Stephens
Louisiana 5th Judicial District Court Judge

Chet D. Traylor

Succeeded by
E. Rudolph McIntyre, Jr.

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