Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll, Retired has served this great state as a member of its judiciary for 34 years. In 1983, she became the first woman to be elected to a reviewing court in the history of Louisiana when, shortly after the birth of her youngest of five sons, she vigorously campaigned for and won a seat on the Third Circuit Court of Appeal. Prior to this campaign, she was a political newcomer. After canvasing the eight parishes of the Third Circuit’s First District with her devoted brother Paul Theriot and placing 40,000 miles on her car in the process, she was a political rookie no longer. In 1996, she was elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court after running an insurgent and hard-fought campaign against an incumbent. Since January 1, 1997, Justice Knoll has devoted herself to serving the Court, the judiciary, and the people of Louisiana. Over her impressive 20 year career as a Louisiana Supreme Court Justice, Justice Knoll has read and voted on over 58,000 writ applications and authored 184 full Louisiana Supreme Court opinions—a number which does not include the countless per curiam opinions, concurrences, and dissents that she penned. When you add to this number the 856 opinions she wrote during her 14 year tenure on the Third Circuit Court of Appeal, it is difficult to overstate Justice Knoll’s contribution to the development of Louisiana law. Throughout her career, both as a lawyer and as a member of the judiciary, Justice Knoll always served evenhandedly, courageously, and patiently, with a clear head, and with strong traces of common sense and kindness.
Justice Knoll, Retired grew up in Gueydan, Louisiana, the fifth of ten children born to Alfred Joseph Theriot and Marie Louise Bailey. She later moved with her family to New Orleans, where she attended high school at St. James Major. A gifted operatic soprano, young Jeannette Theriot dreamed of becoming a Metropolitan opera singer. She competed for and won a prestigious Metropolitan Opera Association and New Orleans Opera Guild scholarship to study voice at the Mannes College of Music in New York City. At 19, she moved to Manhattan to pursue this dream and became the protégé of Maestro Kurt Adler of the Metropolitan Opera. God changed her life’s course when He took her beautiful mother. Unable to bear the loss of her mother, Jeannette left her vocal studies and returned to New Orleans. Thereafter, she graduated from Loyola University after majoring in political science and minoring in history. At the urging of a handsome law student, Eddie Knoll, who would later become her husband, she decided to undertake law school and quickly fell in love with the study of law. In 1969, she graduated from Loyola College of Law. From 1969 to 1972, she cut her teeth as an indigent defender in Avoyelles Parish. For 13 years she practiced law with Knoll and Knoll and, from 1972 to 1982, she served as the first Assistant District Attorney for the 12th Judicial District. During this time, she was appointed by the President as a gratuitous attorney and advisor for the United States Selective Service at Local Board No. 5 in Marksville. In 1996, she earned a Master of Laws degree in the judicial process from the University of Virginia School of Law, after penning her thesis on Louisiana’s manifest error doctrine under the direction of renowned legal scholar Professor Daniel J. Meador. In 1995 and 2002, she received the Outstanding Judicial Award from the Victims and Citizens Against Crime, Inc. In 2000, she was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame and named the Louisiana Crimefighters’ Outstanding Jurist of the Year. In 2007, she was inducted, along with her whole family, into the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame. In February of 2017, she received the St. Ives Award from the Loyola School of Law. In April of 2017 Justice Knoll was honored to receive the 2016 Distinguished Jurist of the Year award from the Louisiana Bar Foundation.
Although Justice Knoll’s accomplishments are many, she ranks her family as her greatest blessing and her roles as wife, as mother, and as grandmother to be her most important vocations. She is enjoying a retirement focused solely on her loving family. She has been married for nearly 50 years to Jerold Edward “Eddie” Knoll, with whom she raised five wonderful sons: Triston Kane; Jerold Edward “Eddie,” Jr.; Edmond “Sonny” Humphries; Blake Theriot; and Jonathan Paul. She is exceedingly blessed to be the proud grandmother to eleven beautiful children: Andree, Trey, Lawson, Jeanne Elyse, Lyla, Sunni Claire, Luke, Tyler Blake, Jameson, Olivia and Liam. The Knoll family resides in Marksville, Louisiana.
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