City Court of Slidell serves all of Wards 8 and 9 of St. Tammany Parish. The boundaries of these two Wards are essentially all of East St. Tammany Parish.
- The Court handles the following categories of cases:
- Traffic violations
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
- Adult criminal
- Includes: domestic violence, possession of marijuana, theft, felony arrest and search warrants
- Juvenile felonies
- Juvenile misdemeanors
- Child In Need of Care (abused or neglected children)
- Families In Need of Service
- Civil lawsuits of up to $50,000
- Small Claims (up to $5,000)
First elected in 2004, Judge James “Jim” Lamz has established a firm reputation for making City Court of Slidell not only more efficient but for making it more responsive to serving the community of East St. Tammany Parish.
Judge Lamz was raised in Slidell. From humble beginnings, he worked diligently to first earn his law degree from Loyola University Law School and then to establish a respected, flourishing law practice before his election as Judge of City Court of Slidell.
As an adult, Judge Lamz has been vitally involved in the Slidell community, active in a number of civic and community organizations. As he was raising his son Jimmy, Judge Lamz was well-known as a committed volunteer with youth sports organizations. In fact, this commitment to the betterment of the youth of our community is one of the driving reasons he sought to become Judge. As Judge, he has improved and expanded services to youthful offenders, whether in Juvenile Drug Court, through his use of innovative alternative sentencing and treatment for non-violent young offenders or through his advocacy of improvements in the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center (FPJDC).
As City Court Judge, he has established accounting and other workplace efficiencies to assure the Court remains within budget while the number of cases soared to historical levels in the post-Katrina years. Visitors to City Court of Slidell benefit from the courtesy and respect they receive from all employees of the Court, thanks to the special emphasis from Judge Lamz. Another hallmark of his years on the bench has been the manner in which Judge Lamz supports and protects victims’ rights.
Judge Lamz has been cited by the legal community for his diligent efforts to educate the public and students about legal matters as well as opening the doors of Slidell City Court to civic and community organizations so the public can watch and learn about the judicial process and the Court’s functions. These efforts were officially recognized in 2012 when the Louisiana State Bar Association presented Judge Lamz with the Crystal Gavel Award. In 2001, the Louisiana State Bar Association instituted the Crystal Gavel Awards, designed to recognize outstanding lawyers and judges who have been unsung heroes and heroines in their communities.
Because he is respected for his attentive oversight of the FPJDC, the local detention center, Judge Lamz was appointed by the Louisiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Association to serve as the Judicial Representative on a committee created by the Louisiana Supreme Court to study and make recommendations for standards governing the state’s Juvenile Detention Centers.
Under the Judge’s leadership, the number of hours when Court is in session have greatly increased yet, through improved procedures, wait times for victims and police officers to testify have substantially decreased. Judge Lamz also worked with the Louisiana Legislature to increase the upper limit on civil lawsuits that may be filed in the Court from $20,000 to $50,000. This change was welcomed by local residents and business owners as using the City Court of Slidell is faster, more convenient and less costly than the 22nd Judicial District Court in Covington.
He has brought oversight and management of all Juvenile Drug Court in-house, assuring more effective monitoring of youthful drug offenders. His changes have led to such an impressively low rate of repeat offenses that the state court officials have cited Slidell’s Juvenile Drug Court as a model for other courts in the state.
When the state cut funding to free GED preparatory classes offered through the St. Tammany School Board, Judge Lamz developed an innovative way to continue this vital program for Juvenile Drug Court participants. All drug court participants must work toward their high school diploma or a GED certificate to stay in the program since completion of high school is a key to turning these teens into adults who choose to build more productive lives. Lamz’s solution was a novel, cost-free arrangement using donated materials, volunteer tutors and classrooms at a local church. Months later, a local state technical college seeking a cost-effective way to offer the same services to other juveniles and adults in the community noted the success of Lamz’s solution and negotiated to take over and expand the Court’s program.
Judge Lamz also worked with City Marshal Wyatt Williams to improve security at the Courthouse. He has hired the first full time Staff Attorney. Through a federal grant he sought, Judge Lamz was able to build client conference cubicles, specially designed to benefit attorneys working with juvenile clients. Another grant made possible an improved secure juvenile file room.
Judge Lamz is married to attorney Deanna Hamilton-Lamz. His son Jimmy Lamz is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and The Citadel in Charleston, SC.
Though City Court of Slidell was first established in 1964, it did not have its own home until the current Courthouse was built in 1998 at Bouscaren and Fourth Streets. Until then, it operated out of a second floor space in the Slidell Police Department.
In those early years, the number of cases at the Court were small and were managed on a part-time basis by the first Judges on the Court. That is no longer true; Court is now held five days a week as East St. Tammany Parish has seen its population grow substantially since those early years.
The name of the Court can be misleading as its jurisdiction is not just within the city limits of Slidell but serves all of Wards 8 and 9, which are essentially all of East St. Tammany Parish.
The Courthouse, built for $1.26 million, was named for the first Judge: Gus Fritchie, Sr., member of a prominent Slidell family and a respected attorney. He served from 1964 until his death in 1971. During Judge Fritchie’s period in office, the Court’s jurisdiction covered only Slidell. The state later expanded the court’s jurisdiction to cover all of the 8th and 9th wards.
His successor was his son, Gus Fritchie, Jr. (served 1971-1989), also a well-known local attorney. In private practice since 1953, Judge Fritchie maintained his practice throughout the time he served as City Court of Slidell Judge. First elected to finish his father’s term, Judge Fritchie was elected to three more terms before retiring in1989. Judge Fritchie died in 2001.
Judge James R. Strain, Jr., (served 1989 -1999) was elected following Judge Fritchie’s retirement. Though he’d been a judge on the 22nd Judicial District Court, Judge Strain wanted to revive his private law practice, which the part-time judgeship position in Slidell would allow him to do. However, after ten years, Judge Strain opted to step down from the position when the growing caseload no longer allowed him to have enough time for his private practice and his family.
It was Judge Strain who worked for nearly six years to get the Courthouse built. Chronic overcrowding left defendants, victims and attorneys waiting in a tight lobby, a situation Judge Strain told the local newspaper was “dangerous and inhumane.” Slidell city officials built the new Courthouse just down the street from the Slidell Police Department. Architect Nathan Curtis, who designed the Louisiana Superdome and the now-demolished Rivergate in New Orleans, was awarded a $69,000 contract to design the courthouse.
Judge Gary J. Dragon (served 1999 - 2004) was elected to the position after Judge Strain stepped down from office. A former Assistant District Attorney with the 22nd Judicial District, he had been assigned as Prosecutor for City Court of Slidell for eight years before he ran to replace Judge Strain. He served until May 3, 2004, when he died in office at the age of 57.
Judge James “Jim” Lamz, a graduate of Slidell High School and Loyola University Law School, was elected Slidell City Court Judge in 2004. Because of the growth of the case load, immediately upon taking office Judge Lamz voluntarily retired from the private practice of law so he could serve the community as Judge full time.
The Court has only had two City Marshals: J. Russell Camp, who served from the Court’s inception until 2004; and Wyatt Williams (serving 2004 – present), a former Slidell Police Department Captain, who remains City Marshal today.
In addition to housing the courtrooms and Judge’s offices, the Courthouse also holds the offices of the City Marshal, Clerk of Court, Probation Office and Juvenile Drug Court.