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Judge James “Jim” Lamz announces retirement after 15 years on the bench
 
After spending the past 15 years on the bench in the City Court of Slidell, Judge James “Jim” Lamz has announced his retirement marking December 31, 2019 his last day. Adhering to his standard of operating debt-free with as little inconvenience as possible to those in the city, Judge Lamz is coordinating his retirement so no special election will have to be called for. Rather, by alerting the Secretary of State of his departure now, those running to replace him will be included in the already scheduled next election, which is October 12, 2019.
 
“I’ve had the honor of serving Slidell and  East St. Tammany Parish for 15 years, and it’s been rewarding beyond words,” comments Judge Lamz as he reflects upon all that has occurred since 2004 when he became the fifth judge to serve in that capacity in the court’s 55-year history. “I’ve done everything I set out to accomplish, and I feel like I can leave knowing I’ve positioned this court to continue to work for the residents of the area and do so in an efficient and debt-free manner.”
 
The list of accomplishments for Judge Lamz is long and involves everything from establishing the financial security of the court to developing programs to keep young offenders out of jail and putting them on a path to a better, more meaningful life. When state funding cuts resulted in the discontinuation of the local GED preparatory program for juvenile offenders, Judge Lamz launched his own GED program. He relied upon donated books and volunteers to help the young offenders convicted mostly of drug-related crimes finish their education and receive a diploma. To this day, he invites young students, as well as civic groups, 
into the courtroom to learn more about the law and how the court operates. Education is a high priority as Judge Lamz says knowledge is what can keep you out of trouble, and he’s not just speaking as a legal mind, but as someone who knows first-hand what it’s like to be young and potentially heading into trouble.
 
“Like some children today, I was raised in an abusive household and if it wasn’t for my ability to do well in school, I’m not sure where I would have ended up. I had no positive role model, no mentor, but I had the gift of common sense, and that kept me on the right path,” explains Judge Lamz who adds, “I tell young offenders all the time that education can be what keeps them out of jail. I was the first person in my family to graduate from high school, both of my parents were high school dropouts.  So, I hope that my own story is something that can encourage others.” 
 
It’s not just the human impact over the past 15 years Judge Lamz is proud of, it’s his fiscal approach to the court as well. Upon being elected to fill the remaining term of Judge Gary Dragon following his sudden death, even though he was allowed to practice law, Judge Lamz voluntarily retired from private legal practice so that he could serve the community full-time. It was then he also established the philosophy that the court would operate with no debt even though it receives no funding from the state or the parish and little funding from the City of Slidell; the court generates its own funding stream through court costs. Even after the court sustained substantial damage after Hurricane Katrina, Judge Lamz made sure all repairs were paid for in full with cash, with very little from FEMA because the City did not have flood insurance on the courthouse.  Today, another major undertaking is occurring, a new parking lot for the courthouse and as with everything, Judge Lamz notes, “We are paying for the $500,000 parking lot outright with no lingering debt. I made it a priority to run this court with no debt, and I have proudly done that.” 
 
Another proud moment for Judge Lamz came in 2007 after The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued him for displaying a picture of Jesus in the courthouse lobby.  The story made national news.  Instead of removing the portrait, Judge Lamz added other historic, preeminent lawgivers, such as Moses and Confucius, and upon doing that, the Federal Judge agreed that the picture of Jesus could remain on the wall in the courthouse. 
 
In recognition for all his work over the years, Judge Lamz has received numerous awards including the Louisiana State Bar Association Crystal Gavel Award to recognize him as an unsung hero in the community for his strong commitment to civic values and community involvement. Last year, the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), presented Judge Lamz with the Judge of the Year Award for all his work for abused and neglected children in the community. Civically, Judge Lamz has served on the Slidell Ethics Committee and was named a member of the Board of Commissioners for the Slidell Memorial Hospital. A graduate of Slidell, High School, Lamz received a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from Loyola. 
 
Other highlights during Judge Lamz’s tenure: 
 
⦁Recognized as the “Civic Leader of the Year” for 2018 by the St. Tammany Alliance for Good Government. 
 
⦁Served on the committee to develop uniform standards for all juvenile detention centers in Louisiana.
 
⦁Awarded the Superior Leadership Award by the Slidell Women’s Republican Club.
 
⦁Developed the court’s deferred Payment program to make it easier for those facing penalties and fines to pay. The court works with offenders to set up an interest free payment program rather than put people in jail after a court proceeding.  
 
⦁Established a Community Service program for those unable to meet monthly payments. For each hour of volunteer work an offender completes with a court-approved provider, a credit of $10.00 goes toward levied fines. 
 
⦁Establishment of a “No Refusal Initiative,” where all suspected impaired drivers caught will be subject to blood testing if they refuse a breathalyzer test. The program is a collaborative effort between City Court of Slidell, Slidell Police Department, Louisiana State Police, and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. 
 
⦁Last year, established and presented to the Slidell Museum, a time capsule in honor of court’s 50th Anniversary. The time capsule, which will remain in the museum for the next 50 years, includes historical documents from the court, such as newspaper articles, event programs, invitations, photos and other mementos.
 
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Please enjoy a special slide show created to honor the Court's 50 year history as well as the people who made City Court of Slidell a place of service to our community.