Wagoner cites police experience as key
From Oklahoma City police officer to prosecutor with the El Dorado County district attorney’s office, James Wagoner hopes to continue his public service career to be the next judge in Superior Court Office Six.
Wagoner, assistant district attorney, faces private practice attorney David Becker in a Nov. 5 run-off election for one of the three open Placerville judgeships. During March’s primary election, Wagoner received 1,948 fewer votes than Becker, the top vote-getter in the four-person race.
Now it’s down to two and Wagoner believes he is the right candidate.
“Being a police officer, you can influence your society and your area on a more limited basis and in the district attorney’s office you go toward shaping social politics in your area,” Wagoner said. “I see the judge as being a community leader and being able to do good for the community.”
In 1979, Wagoner graduated cum laude from Central State University in Edmond, Okla., with a degree in history/education. After four years of serving as a police officer he received a law degree from Oklahoma School of Law in 1988.
Wagoner said his police work would benefit him on the bench.
“When a criminal case comes in, I would have the experience knowing how things operate and how things flow on the street,” Wagoner said. “I know if a police officer has done a thorough investigation. I can give a critical eye to evidence before me. I think it is an invaluable experience.”
Wagoner worked in a law firm in Oklahoma before moving to California. He shared time between offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento, working as a civil litigator handling areas such as environmental litigation and represented insurance companies down to small business owners.
He later worked for the district attorney’s office in Stanislaus County for two years before heading to El Dorado County to handle a primarily criminal caseload.
Despite his opponent and the four candidates for the two other judgeships, Wagoner, 45, believes the court system doesn’t require major changes to boost efficiency.
“That’s where I break from the pack I guess,” Wagoner said. “There’s always improvements to be made, ways to improve the operation. Overall, I think we’re doing a pretty good job.”
Wagoner said the last time El Dorado County added a judgeship was in 1976. Since that time, Wagoner said, the population of the county has tripled.
“I think our judges do a good job of pitching in,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we need to redistribute work.”
A history buff and lover of quotes, Wagoner cited several sentences after saying his favorite from Socrates. It is the way he wants to lead if he wins the election.
“Four things belong to a judge: to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly and to decide impartially,” Wagoner said.
— Contact William Ferchland at email@example.com.
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