This year’s election season includes all district judges and for the Bossier-Webster 26th Judicial District Court bench, that means six judgeships are up for re-election. Judges John Robinson and Ford Stinson are retiring, but to date there have been no announced contenders for the other four seats – and that circumstance isn’t likely to change.
While both Webster Parish attorney Charles Jacobs and Bossier Parish attorney Randal Robinson have announced their candidacies for the open seats, only Jacobs is actively campaigning. He is seeking the seat to be vacated by Judge Robinson.
Interestingly, Jacobs’s first job out of law school was in John Robinson’s Springhill law office, until Robinson was elected judge about five years later. That was nearly 20 years ago – and Jacobs said those years have an opportunity to practice in most all areas of law.
“We did a lot of civil litigation work, we did a lot of property work, domestic, wills, successions … I’ve practiced both criminal defense work. I’ve served … as a public defender. I’ve also, for the past 11 years, been a part-time assistant district attorney in the 26th JDC in Bossier Parish working for Schuyler Marvin.”
Jacobs’s experience doesn’t stop there. For nearly 15 years, he’s served as the Springhill City Attorney and prosecutes misdemeanors in Springhill City Court. He also currently serves as City Attorney for the towns of Cullen and Sarepta in Webster Parish.
“I’ve pretty much, over 19-20 years of practicing law, done a little bit of everything … from domestic work to property work to contested successions. I’ve done some personal injury work, I’ve done some personal injury defense work and I’ve done criminal defense work … I’ve been a prosecutor. So in all, I’ve practiced in all areas of the law … I’ve had a wide range of experience and I think that would qualify me as a district judge,” Jacobs said.
“I feel confident and capable of handling any sort of matter that would come before me,” he said.
Jacobs has also represented clients at the appellate court level as well as in federal court.
As to what makes a good judge, Jacobs ticked off his judicial quality considerations.
“…One, of course, is experience. In these days where lawyers tend to specialize, I’ve never done that. If an attorney specializes in one area, he becomes very proficient in one area. The problem is that as a judge, you don’t get to specialize – you have to handle whatever case is assigned to your division. You could have a medical malpractice case one day, a divorce case the next day, and a boundary dispute the next day …”
“The other thing – integrity – having a good ethical record. You have to be honest, you have to be upfront with people. Right up there at the top is temperament – that just because you put on a black robe doesn’t make you better than anybody else, and you can’t forget where you come from, and you can’t take yourself too seriously.”
“You have to remember that when people come to court, even lawyers … it’s a stressful situation and most people are not used to being in court. They get nervous and they all need to be treated with respect. You know, the courtroom is the one place where it should not matter if you have ten dollars or a million dollars in the bank – you ought to be treated with dignity and respect and you ought to get an equal shake.”
Jacobs said that he believes he possesses these qualities: “I think that I have a good temperament. I think I have a good history with my colleagues … sometimes you have to agree to disagree, but you can do that in a courteous and civil manner, and I think I’ve done a good job with that.”
Jacobs and wife Melanie have been married for over 20 years. Melanie is also a well-known Webster Parish leader; she’s served as principal in several Webster Parish schools and currently serves as Special Education Supervisor for the school system. Their son John attends North Webster High School. The family attends Springhill United Methodist Church.
Marty Carlson is a columnist for the Bossier Press-Tribune. She may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org