Cottonwood’s newest magistrate lacks a law degree but possesses all the formal training and experience required to rule on matters expected to come before her, including requests for extensions of time or to modify installment payment schedules.
Court Administrator Janie B. Randall will add the responsibilities of associate magistrate to her list of duties starting Thursday, Aug. 5, following a unanimous vote of the City Council on July 6.
“I hate to say it because it’s such a cliché, but this one’s a no-brainer,” Councilman Terrence Pratt said in support of Randall’s appointment.
Randall told council she’s ready to step in for Presiding Magistrate A. Douglas LaSota when needed and said she was grateful for the opportunity to serve.
Hiring outside lawyers as temporary judges when LaSota is ill, on vacation, overbooked, or recused from ruling on a case costs the city thousands of dollars each year, LaSota told council.
The promotion, which Randall accepts without any additional pay, will save the city the money of hiring an outside lawyer and speed up the time it takes to process cases, he said.
A 14-year veteran of municipal courts in Yavapai County, Randall graduated from Pepperdine University with a bachelor of arts and University of San Diego Lawyer’s Assistance Program with a certificate of 150 hours litigation training.
A former volunteer mediator for Prescott Justice Court and Superior Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Office, Randall enjoys experience working face to face with advocates engaged in courtroom battle.
She is of Hispanic descent and speaks Spanish, two attributes the city desires in an associate magistrate, LaSota told council.
“She will add diversity to our court,” LaSota said, making it more user-friendly for litigants.
A mother of four, Randall and her husband raised their children to engage in public service. Two serve in the Army, and a third plans to enter the Peace Corps. Their fourth child plays college football.
Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” celebrating its 50th year in print, attracted her to pursue a legal career when she was a young girl, Randall said.
Through the narration of a young girl, the novel tells the story of her humble country lawyer father who tries to help a black man wrongly accused of rape avoid conviction.
As a child, Randall enjoyed the full run of a courthouse with her friend, whose father was an attorney. Twice each week, she watched the legal process from behind the scenes and found it fascinating.
“For me, it made me passionate about working in the law,” she said. Although she was originally headed to law school, a serious illness required Randall to stay at home and care for her ailing mother. She decided to scale back her dreams of a career as a lawyer.
Instead, she eventually found work as a paralegal, then took a job in court administration and never looked back.
When sitting as magistrate, Randall said she plans to “listen to the needs of the public that has to come before me and do my best to make findings based on what is in the best interests of justice.”