Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

October 18, 2008

District Judge candidate - James Lagomarsino

By Janet Jacobs

James Lagomarsino, 36, has spent the better part of a year walking the county, dropping by people’s houses, talking to them about the district judge’s job, and asking for their votes.

Lagomarsino, currently Corsicana municipal judge, and formerly a prosecutor with the district attorney’s office, is running against Clay Beard, a private practice attorney. The incumbent judge, John Jackson, is not seeking reelection.

As he travels from house to house, block to block, he meets a lot of the people who don’t know what the district judge does, and while he understands that it can be confusing, he thinks educating people is part of the process.

Unlike justice of the peace, or even county judge, the district judge is required to be a lawyer, and is currently the only jurist in the county able to hear felony cases. In Navarro County, the district judge is also the administrator over the probation department and the county auditor’s office.

Lagomarsino said it’s also been educational for him, too.

“I’ve been meeting people I never would have met otherwise. People who are just going about their lives,” Lagomarsino said.

He admitted that judges don’t always meet the nicest people, nor do prosecutors, he said.

For seven years, from 1999 to 2006, Lagomarsino worked as a prosecutor with the Navarro County District Attorney’s office, and he focused primarily on child protective cases, of abuse, molestation and families torn apart by drugs. He left the D.A.’s office in 2006 to become municipal judge, taking the place of Lowell Thompson, now district attorney.

He took the municipal judge’s position to see if he would enjoy being a judge, and found that he does.

While he doesn’t compare the two directly — as municipal judge, he doesn’t hear felonies, and most of his punishments are for fines or one or two days in jail at most — he sees the similarities.

“As a municipal judge you have to follow all kinds of rules and laws, and many I don’t personally agree with,” he said. Still, he can’t enforce them selectively, picking and choosing which ones he likes or not.

“It trains you to be neutral and objective. You’re there to make sure everyone gets a fair trial,” he said.

If elected, he pledges to be fair, and abide by the laws, not personalities, in all his decisions.

“I will follow the law, and make sure safety (of the community) is always considered, as well as the rights of the defendant,” he said. “It’s a great balancing act.”

Lagomarsino said he’s the better candidate because of his experience, integrity and willingness to put in long hours and devote himself to the job, as he has in the last two years at municipal judge.

“You’ve got to be willing to work hard and stand up to people in that courtroom, both as a lawyer and a judge,” he said.

“I’ve been a public servant since I got out of law school,” he said. “That’s part of the job.”

Born and reared in Corsicana, Lagomarsino is married to Shannon Lagomarsino, and they have two children, Logan, 12, and Aiden, who is nearly 3. They are expecting twins. Shannon works as a flight attendant with Delta Air Lines.

He attended the University of Texas at Austin, worked in Washington, D.C., as a special prosecutor, and attended the Oklahoma City University School of Law.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jacobs@corsicanadailysun.com