Attorney Antonio “Tony” Clayton to Deliver Commencement Address
10-May-2018 | News

Antonio “Tony” Clayton, managing partner of the Clayton, Fruge & Ward Law Firm, will serve as the 2018 Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) Commencement speaker at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 12, 2018 at the Lakefront Arena.

SUNO will confer degrees for 480 graduates. The class of 2018 consists of 68 honor graduates: four Suma Cum Laude, 17 Magna Cum Laude, 40 Cum Laude and seven Honors. Social Work major Bartek West in the Spring 2018 graduate with the highest grade-point average of 3.891. In addition, 191 graduates will receive Master’s degrees. 

Mr. Clayton, a 1988 graduate of Southern University A & M College and a 1991 Cum Laude graduate of the Southern University Law Center, had a storied career as a prosecutor in East Baton Rouge Parish and as special prosecutor for the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

As a prosecutor, Mr. Clayton secured the convictions of numerous felons, most notably serial killer Derrick Todd Lee and, more recently, Monique Kitts, who was convicted of the second degree murder of her husband in West Baton Rouge.

In addition to his public service as a prosecutor, Mr. Clayton served as a district court judge at the 19th Judicial District Court in 1997. As a trial attorney, Mr. Clayton has secured numerous multi-million dollar jury awards on behalf of injured clients, including a $144 million judgment in Peggy Ross, et al. v. Michael Averette, et al., which currently is the largest jury award ever granted in Louisiana. In April 2016, Mr. Clayton assisted in obtaining a $52 million jury award for a severely brain-damaged client.

Mr. Clayton serves on the Southern University System Board of Supervisors. He also is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association, Baton Rouge Bar Association, Louisiana District Attorney Association, among others.

Married to the former Paula Hartley, Mr. Clayton has five children.


The total enrollment at SUNO has grown every year since Hurricane Katrina. Despite projections that the University's enrollment would only reach between 1,200 and 1,500 students in the spring of 2006, more than 2,000 students returned to campus. SUNO's current enrollment is 2,704 students.