Photo:  Judge Courtney Arkeen, 128th District Court, poses with her bailiff of six years, James Lucia, during his retirement party held March 8 at the Orange County courthouse.

By Dave Rogers

For The News

James Lucia is living the sweet life.

The 30-year Orange County employee worked his final day as bailiff for the 128th District Court on March 7, had a retirement party March 8 and began packing for a two-month trip to Italy.

“It’s going to be different, but it’ll go on,” Lucia said, admitting it feels funny to get up in the morning and not put on his Orange County deputy sheriff uniform.

“I’ve got nine acres here in Orange County, plenty of projects and two timeshares. Traveling and working around my place, that’s what I plan on doing.”

Lucia has worked for the last six years for Judge Courtney Arkeen. Before that, he worked three years for 163rd District Court Judge Dennis Powell.

“James started with me on Day 1,” said Arkeen, appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Perry in 2011. “He actually trained us on the way the courthouse works.

“He’s a gentleman, and he’s very loyal. I have never felt unsafe one day with him here.”

Lucia says one of the keys to being a good bailiff is being able to head off trouble before it begins.

“As a bailiff, your best skill is verbal skill,” he said. “You have to learn how to talk to people, defuse situations, how to calm people down.”

“James had a way to talk people down,” Arkeen said. “They may come in here mad, but they leave pretty calm.”

Not that Lucia couldn’t handle himself if it came to that.

Orange County Sheriff Keith Merritt, left, presents retiring bailiff James Lucia with a plaque during Lucia’s retirement party March 8.

He spent 16 years as a patrol officer with the sheriff’s office, worked in public relations and was a DARE officer. And he also taught the deputies self defense.

“I have a background in martial arts,” he said. “It’s kind of a family thing with my sons. I really enjoyed it. I used to teach defensive tactics at the sheriff’s office.”

But mostly, his court duty consisted of keeping a keen eye out for trouble.

“My primary job as a bailiff was to protect the judge at all times,” Lucia said. “I was responsible for three young beautiful women [Arkeen, court coordinator Latoya Dubose and court reporter Holly Harrison].

“They’re my babies.”

Next to the sheriff’s office and his family, Lucia’s longest running job has been as bingo caller for the Orange Lions Carnival.

“I like the Lions Carnival because all the money stays here for the kids,” Lucia said. “They do a lot of great things.”