But, reflecting upon a lengthy career in Erie County Municipal Court, Paul Lux did, cracking a smile and revealing exactly how he feels about his tenure.
“It’s a great job,” Lux said. “It’s been a privilege for me. It really has.”
Lux recently announced he won’t seek re-election, voluntarily ending his tenure, which began in 1994, behind the bench.
“Those 25 years went by fast,” Lux said while letting out a chuckle.
His term ends Dec. 31, and at least one person, Berlin Heights’ mayor and area attorney CJ Kamm, indicated an interest to run for the position.
“Truthfully, I think it’s time for fresh blood,” Lux said. “I have accomplished everything that I have wanted to accomplish. It’s important to get a fresh set of eyes on the job and in the court to see if there is a better way of doing things than what is being done today.”
Lux offered some advice for his eventual successor.
“You have to have the ability to listen. You have to hear what people are saying,” Lux said. “You also need good judgment. You need to make the right call and not necessarily the call people expect or want.”
He also outlined some challenges a new officeholder must address.
“The next judge will have to focus on substance abuse and violence in the household,” Lux said. “We are seeing huge increases in both. We need better tools to deal with them. There is no doubt that I have not been as effective as I wanted to be in handling those problems.”
Prior to becoming a judge, Lux served as a lawyer. “I did trial work in Erie County and Huron County in both civil and criminal.”
Lux then shared his reasons for running as a judge.
“It was a desire to make a contribution to the community I was raising my family in,” said Lux, who has five children and three grandchildren. “It was certainly a motivating factor, and it was a professional opportunity.”
In retirement, Lux wants to spend more time with his family. He’ll also offer up his services to pinch-hit in cases requiring a special or substitute judge.
Many Erie County officials, including a fellow judge, labeled Lux’s departure as a great loss for area government.
“I really hate to see the judge ride off into the sunset but completely understand,” Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Tygh Tone said. “He is probably one of the most overqualified jurists on the municipal court bench, however, it was that intelligence that allowed him to accomplish so much progress with the Erie County Municipal Court while making that evolution look easy. All my best to Judge Lux.”
Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said Lux took great pride in his job, never brushing off a colleague, county official or court participant and always giving them an explanation for his reasons — even when he never had to.
“Lux has served the community well during his long years of service as the judge,” Sigsworth said.
Building up the municipal court
Admittedly, Lux pointed to renovating the municipal court building, on West Mason Road near EHOVE Career Center, at a fraction of the cost as his greatest accomplishment in office.
Thanks to his father, who worked in construction, Lux knew about building and collaborated with designers in hopes of limiting costs while still ending up with a quality product.
The building’s final price totaled about $1.7 million, paid by court funds he saved up in years past. The enhanced courthouse debuted in 2013. It features many state-of-the-art amenities, such as with technology and precautions built in to protect plaintiffs from defendants deemed dangerous.
In today’s dollars, the project could’ve easily doubled that amount. Lux said he waited until the market benefited demand, or buyers, versus suppliers, or construction companies. Though it wasn’t an easy decision, considering the court’s previous condition.
“It was really inadequate to be able to conduct business in there,” Lux said. “I had attorneys meeting with clients in the front porch in the middle of winter because they had no other place to go. We had rain coming through the roof also. We had a lot of issues, but we corrected them.”
Among some other notable achievements undertaken by Lux while in office, he:
• Uploaded court files online; “We got the entire file system on there.”
• Established a system in which officers can submit citations through an electronic system, streamlining this entire process
• Added a probation officer who handles pre-sentence investigations and post-conviction controls; “This gives the court more tools. When you can add this, it avoids having to put someone in jail, and the county benefits.”
• Made his court a full-time operation
Lux credits his court employees for going along with and implementing these changes.
“I have a tremendous staff,” Lux said. “Whoever is the new judge, my staff will do whatever is necessary to make it a smooth transition.”