For District Judge James Todd Russell, being grand marshal in the Nevada Day Parade is a family tradition.
For District Judge James Todd Russell, being grand marshal in the Nevada Day Parade is a family tradition.
He said he’ll ride this year along with his wife Jeanne and two grand daughters in a 1915 Ford.

He said it’s also a good time to announce that he will seek election to another six-year term as Carson district judge.

When his current term expires at the end of next year, he said he will have 14 years on the bench.

“I’m gong to be 72 in November but I’m going to run again,” he said adding that he’s in good health and wants to, “keep going for a while.”

A Carson City native, Russell said he rode in the parade every year: “We always had to ride as a family, dad and mom made us ride, all five of us kids.”

More than that, his father Charles was grand marshal of the parade twice, once while he was governor in the 1950s and once after he left office.

His grandfather Clark Guild Sr. who was also a Carson district judge, also served as grand marshal twice. In fact, he said, Judge Guild founded the Nevada Day Parade.

Because of that history, he said the parade organizers called and asked if he would be willing to be grand marshal this year.

“I asked them, do I have to do anything?” he said. “They said ‘no,’ you just ride in the parade.”

The Guild and Russell families have a long history in Nevada and a long history of public service going back to George Russell about the time of the Spanish American War.

“He was state treasurer and he was clerk of the federal court,” said Russell.

In addition, he was an Elko County assemblyman.

But even though he volunteered for the Spanish American War, he didn’t quite get to Cuba. Russell said George made it to Florida where he caught malaria, keeping him out of the fight.

His grandfather Judge Guild was also one of the founders of the Nevada State Museum.

“He knew Max Fleischmann (of Fleischmann’s yeast and Fleischmann’s gin fame). He called him up and we need some money because we want to buy the Nevada mint and turn it into a state museum.”

Russell was born and raised in Carson City, graduating from Carson High in 1965, He received a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Nevada in 1969 and his law degree from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in 1974 after a stint in the U.S. Army.

After working as a law clerk at the Nevada Supreme Court, he was a deputy attorney general until 1976, after which he went into private practice for 20 years.

“I’m the only judge appointed by two governors,” he said.

He was appointed to the bench first by Gov. Kenny Guinn as he was leaving office, but there was a question whether a governor could appoint a judge to take office after that governor left office. The point was rendered moot after Gov. Jim Gibbons affirmed the appointment.

Russell has been on the bench since Jan. 1, 2007.

“I’ve enjoyed doing it,” he said. “I’ve done it more toward helping the community make sure we take care of things correctly.”