Sheriff Mark Shumate. Born in Ruston, Louisiana, James received a Bachelor of Arts from Louisiana Technical University in 1968 and a Juris Doctor from Louisiana State University Law School in 1971. He was in private practice in Ruston from 1971 to 1998, and was a business law instructor at Louisiana Technical University from 1992 to 1998.
He was a judge on the Ruston City Court from 1985 to 1998.
On January 27, 1998, James was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana vacated by John M. Shaw. James was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 31, 1998, and received his commission on August 3, 1998.
On August 29, 2006, James overruled Magistrate Judge James Doctorate. Kirk, who wrote that Federal law "..entitles the public to the reasonable use of navigable waters for all legitimate purposes of travel or transportation, for boating, sailing for pleasure, as well as for carrying persons or property for hire, and in any kind of watercraft the use of which is consistent with others also enjoying the right possessed in common." The holding confirmed that it was criminal trespass for boaters to enter property above the ordinary high-water mark of riparian landowners to fish or hunt without permission. Strictly interpreting Federal law, James said that "the public has no "right to fish and hunt on the Mississippi River."" The original case was the result of the arrests of several anglers who were fishing in Mississippi River floodwaters, which had covered the private property of the Walker Cottonwood Farm.
The case shows that the public trust rights associated with navigable waterways do not extend to "flooded" areas.