Darrel Papillion – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

Longtime Baton Rouge attorney Darrel Papillion has extensive experience and cross-party bona fides going for him as he hopes to be the first Democratic appointee to the Louisiana federal trial bench since Judge John DeGravelles was appointed nine years ago.


Born in 1968, Darrel J. Papillion grew up in St. Landry parish in South-central Louisiana. He attended Louisiana State University, graduating in 1990 and then received a law degree from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at LSU in 1994.

After graduation, Papillion clerked for Justice Catherine “Kitty” Kimball on the Louisiana Supreme Court. After completing his clerkship with Kimball, Papillion joined McGlinchey Stafford A.P.L.C. He shifted in 1999 to Moore, Walters & Thompson A.P.L.C. and again in 2001 to became a name partner in Moore, Walters, Thompson, Thomas, Papillion, & Cullens, A.P.L.C. In 2009, the firm shifted to be Moore, Papillion, Thomas & Cullens, LLC, where he currently serves as partner.

Papillion is a past president of the Louisiana Bar Association.

History of the Seat

Papillion has been nominated for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. This seat was opened by the move of Judge Carl Barbier to senior status on January 1, 2023. Papillion has received support for his nomination from Republican Senator Bill Cassidy.

Legal Experience

Papillion has spent his career largely working in civil and commercial litigation, albeit in a number of different practices. Early in his career, Papillion persuaded the Louisiana Supreme Court to reverse an adverse judgment on a legal malpractice case against an Alabama attorney. See Alonso v. Line, 846 So.2d 745 (La. 2003).

More recently, Papillion has represented Louisiana Insurance Commissioner James Donelon in a suit alleging breach of contract and professional negligence by the Louisiana Health Cooperative. See Donelon v. Shilling, No. 2017 CW 1545 (La. Ct. App. 1st Cir. Feb. 28, 2019).

Notably, Papillion represented, alongside attorneys from the Elias Law Firm, plaintiffs challenging the configuration of Louisiana’s Congressional Districts as violating the U.S. and Louisiana constitutions. See English v. Ardoin, 335 So. 3d 272 (La. Ct. App. 4th Cir. 2022).


Papillion has written a number of articles on the law over the course of his career. Early on, Papillion coauthored a paper discussing deference to the trial court’s determinations in the appellate process. See Edward J. Walters Jr. & Darrel J. Papillion, Appellate Review of Mixed Questions of Law and Fact: Due Deference to the Fact Finder, 60 La. L. Rev. 541 (1999-2000). More recently, Papillion has expounded on professionalism in the legal community. See Darrel J. Papillion, Professionalism: Things That Will Happen to Do and What to Do When They Do, 64 Ann. Inst. on Min. L. 225 (2018).

Political Activity

Throughout his legal career, Papillion has donated extensively to political candidates. The vast majority of Papillion’s political donations have been to Democrats, including President Biden in 2020 as well as former President Barack Obama and Rep. Maxine Waters. However, Papillion also has a few donations to Republicans, including Rep. Garret Graves, gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone, and Supreme Court Justice (and now federal district judge) Greg Guidry.

Overall Assessment

Over the course of his career, Papillion has built a reputation as an experienced and knowledgeable litigator. Additionally, he is also well-connected on both sides of the aisle and should be poised for a comfortable confirmation as long as he maintains the support of his home-state senators.