Home Page

The Louisiana Bar Foundation

Advancing Equal Justice and law-related education through Fellowship

2009 Distinguished Awards

Distinguished Jurist
Frank J. Polozola

The Honorable Frank J. Polozola is a United States District Judge for the Middle District of Louisiana. He was sworn in as a United States District Judge on May 29, 1980, after having been nominated by President Jimmy Carter. He served as Chief Judge of the Middle District of Louisiana from September 1, 1998, to August 31, 2005, and became a Senior Judge on January 15, 2007. Prior to his Presidential appointment, Judge Polozola served as part time Magistrate Judge from April of 1972 until he was appointed the first full time Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Louisiana in October of 1973. Judge Polozola served as a Magistrate Judge until his appointment as District Judge. He began his legal career serving as a law clerk to United States District Judge E. Gordon West of Baton Rouge. Following his work with Judge West, he entered private practice and subsequently became a partner in the law firm of Seale, Smith and Phelps in Baton Rouge.

As an undergraduate, Judge Polozola attended Louisiana State University on an athletic scholarship where he was a two year letterman and was a member of the 1961 Southeastern Conference Champion baseball team. From 1962-65, Judge Polozola attended LSU Law School, where he received his J.D. in 1965, and received the BNA Award for the senior who increased his GPA the highest as a senior law student. He was selected for Law Review but was not able to serve because of work responsibilities. He was named an honorary member of Omicron Delta Kappa honorary leadership society in 1979. In 1987, he was inducted into the LSU Law School Hall of Fame. More recently, he was inducted into the Order of Coif.

Over the years, Judge Polozola has held leadership positions in several organizations that work to improve the administration of justice of the federal courts. While a magistrate judge, Judge Polozola served as the Treasurer, Second Vice-President, First Vice-President, and President of the National Council of United States Magistrate Judges. He has also served as President, President-Elect, and Secretary of the District Judges Association of the Fifth Circuit, as a member of the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council, on the Committee of the United States Magistrate Judge System for the Judicial Conference of the United States, on the Space and Staffing Committee of the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council, was appointed by Chief Justice Rehnquist to serve as chairman of the Federal Judicial Center's Committee on District Judges Education, which plans and implements CLE programs for District Judges, as a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association Federal-State Court Liaison Committee, as a member of the National Alumni Board of the LSU Law Center, and as a member of the Fifth Circuit District Judges Association Civil Jury Charge Committee.

He is a current member of the LSU Alumni Baseball Committee and served for 22 years as a member of the Board of Directors of Catholic High School. He is a member of the Baton Rouge Bar Association, Louisiana State Bar Association, the Wex Malone American Inns of Court, where he served as president, the Federal Judges Association, and the Fifth Circuit District Judges Association. Judge Polozola was also an adjunct professor of law both at LSU Law Center and at Southern University Law School. Besides teaching at the two law schools in Baton Rouge, Judge Polozola has also been on the faculty of the Federal Judicial Center since 1980.

He has been instrumental in establishing the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program and Job Challenge Program for at-risk youths at the Gillis W. Long Center in Carville, Louisiana, and continues to support these two programs and the Job Corps Program which is also at the Gillis W. Long Center.

Recent achievement awards include: Recognition Award from the LSU School of Social Work for Outstanding Contributions to Mental Health and Correctional Services; Law League of Louisiana's Bernard J. Caillouet Award for Outstanding Contribution in Law Related Education; Knights of Columbus Council #3298 Person of the Year in 1993; 1994 Citizen of the Year award by the Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers; 1994 inductee into the LSU Alumni Hall of Distinction; Catholic High School Hall of Fame; the Capital City Chapter of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame Distinguished American Award; Pelican Award by the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program; 1993 LSU Baseball Alumni of the Year; the Eagle Award by the Louisiana National Youth Challenge Program; 2006 President's Award from the Baton Rouge Bar Association; 2006 LSU Athletic Department Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award; a 2001 inductee into the American-Italian Athletic Hall of Fame; Southeastern Conference 75th Anniversary Person of Character Award; 2008 inductee into the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame; and Louisiana Bar Foundation 2009 Distinguished Jurist.

He is married to Linda Kay White and has three children, Gregory Polozola, Sheri Vutera, and Gordon Polozola, and seven grandchildren, Dustin, Danielle, and Bradley Vutera, Sean and Alana Polozola, and Evan and Sophia Polozola.

Distinguished Jurist
Ralph E. Tyson

Ralph E. Tyson, was a Judge in Division C of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After graduating from Southern University Laboratory School in 1966, Judge Tyson received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1970 at Louisiana State University and his Juris Doctor Degree from the LSU Law School in May, 1973.

Judge Tyson was admitted to the practice of law in Louisiana in October, 1973, and subsequently was employed as Special Counsel and Assistant Attorney General in the Louisiana Department of Justice; Assistant District Attorney for East Baton Rouge Parish; and, for over nine years, was the Chief City Prosecutor for the City of Baton Rouge. During this time, Judge Tyson was also actively engaged in the private practice of law for over 15 years, first with the firm of Pitcher and Tyson and, finally, with the firm of Tyson, Avery & Cunningham.

In October, 1988, Judge Tyson was elected to a vacant seat in Division B of the Baton Rouge City Court where he presided for over five years. During that time, he was elected to serve as Treasurer of the Louisiana City Judge's Association and, later, as Secretary of that organization.

In January, 1993, Judge Tyson was elected without opposition to Division B of the 19th Judicial District Court where he presided over misdemeanor and felony criminal trials. From July, 1997, to June, 1998, Judge Tyson served as the Chief Criminal Judge of the 19th Judicial District Court. During this time, Judge Tyson also served as Judge Pro Tempore on the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal by special appointment of the Louisiana Supreme Court from May, 1997 to October 31, 1997.

On April 2, 1998, President Clinton nominated Judge Tyson to a newly created judgeship in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 31, 1998, and Judge Tyson then became the first African-American federal judge in the Federal Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. On September 1, 2005 Judge Tyson became Chief Judge of the Federal Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.

Judge Tyson was married for to the former Patricia Jordan. They have four children, Chris, Todd, Eric and Cara. Judge Tyson was a lifelong member of Wesley United Methodist Church. He was a member of the Board of the General Health System in Baton Rouge and, on September 24, 2009, Judge Tyson was recognized as the 2009 Distinguished Alumnus of the LSU Law Center.

Louisiana Bar Foundation  |  1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1000  |  New Orleans, LA 70112  |  Phone: 504.561.1046  |  Fax: 504.566.1926