Ex-Marine named magistrate judge

LAWRENCEVILLE - A retired U.S. Marine colonel will command a new kind of battleground when he takes the bench next week as Gwinnett's newest full-time magistrate judge.

James "Jim" Argo, a Lawrenceville private practice attorney who served as commander of a helicopter squadron for Operation Desert Storm, was selected Thursday for the judgeship from a pool of 10 applicants.

Chief Magistrate Judge Warren Davis said Argo seemed a natural choice for the demanding job, which requires judges to work round-the-clock on holidays and weekends.

"A great thing about having military people, I can tell them to report at 0300 hours and they don't bat an eye," Davis said. "That's a wonderful work ethic. As far as leadership skills, there's no better leadership training in the world than the United States military. A man can go under fire in Desert Storm, he certainly can handle anything that was going to be thrown at him in magistrate court."

Davis described Argo as a "stable, level-headed, bright guy" who would make a great addition to the bench.

Argo got the news Thursday morning was looking forward to a new challenge.

"It's something you have to work toward by practicing law, trying to be good at what you're doing. You don't just become a judge," Argo said. "Whatever role you have, you play it to the best that you can."

Argo, 58, chose late in life to pursue a career path as an attorney. At age 45, he enrolled in John Marshall Law School in Atlanta after returning from active duty. He graduated, opened a private practice in Lawrenceville, and has since gained 11 years of experience in criminal, bankruptcy and family law.

Argo said he will continue operating his private practice but reduce his hours. He will be sworn in at 8:30 a.m. Monday by Gwinnett County Probate Judge Walter J. Clark.

n Name: Jim Argo

•Age: 58

•Resides: Snellville

•Education: Law degree from John Marshall Law School

•Experience: Private practice attorney for 11 years in Lawrenceville. Former public defender for Green County for a year and a half beginning in 2003.

•Family: Wife of 27 years, Genie, 24-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter.