June 6, 2013
(New York) - The Hon. Ivan L.R. Lemelle, for the last 15 years a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans, has been elected a Class A (nonalcoholic) trustee of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous.
A.A.’s General Service Board is comprised of 14 alcoholic (Class B) trustees and seven nonalcoholic (Class A) trustees. All seven Class A trustees are highly respected professionals. From philosophy, organization and finance to public information, education and health care, their experience touches on vital aspects of A.A. world service. During A.A.'s 78year history, a number of distinguished nonalcoholics have served on A.A. General Service Board.
Growing up in the small farming community of Opelousas, Louisiana, Judge Lemelle found out firsthand about the insidious nature of alcoholism. “When I was a child of ten,” he says, “I can remember going to the liquor store with a young relative of mine to buy alcohol for an adult in the family—in those days, in that milieu, you could do that. Little did I know that we were feeding this adult’s alcohol addiction and that he was on his deathbed at the time we were doing this. He died from this disease. No matter how many times people would tell the other child and myself that we were not the cause of this, we still feel as if we had a hand in it.”
Judge Lemelle is a 1971 honor graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana where he was a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. scholar and from Loyola University College of Law in 1974, where he was an Earl Warren Scholar and a NAACP Legal Defense Fund scholarship recipient. His honors in college were only the beginning of an auspicious career. From 1972 to 1974, Judge Lemelle clerked for a magistrate judge in criminal court in New Orleans and then moved on to three years as Assistant District Attorney. It was during this stint that he began to work on developing alternative approaches for the treatment, education and job development of offenders with substance abuse issues, something that is a passion of his in his current role as District Judge. “You can’t send addicted individuals back into the community without any substantive assistance to deal with their addiction problems. Their reentry will fail. We need to try to give them the skills to deal with their addiction—and to do so, we refer them to programs like A.A.”
After spending several years in private practice, Judge Lemelle became Assistant Attorney General for the Louisiana Department of Justice, United States Magistrate Judge, and finally United States District Judge. Along the way, he has found time to teach as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Loyola Law School. He is married to Patricia Waddell Lemelle, a retired public school educator. They are parents to Dr. Christopher Lemelle, M.D., Dr. Marc Lemelle, Pharm.D., and Tricia Lemelle, a medical student.
Despite a busy career, the Judge’s childhood experience with his addicted relative has never been far from his mind. He has helped friends and relatives get into A.A. So when he was approached by a Class B (alcoholic) trustee whom he knew about becoming a trustee, Judge Lemelle didn’t hesitate. “I didn’t know much about the board,” he says, “but I thought: this is a great way to give back. It seems to me the whole idea of service is the main thing. I didn’t want just to be a name on a blue ribbon board. I am proud to be part of a working board that provides service to the Fellowship.”
Judge Lemelle is happy to be the first nonalcoholic trustee selected from Louisiana.
For Media, contact: Public Information Desk at the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous at 212-870-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.