On Nov. 6, local citizens will face a difficult choice at the polls, as 12 candidates are vying for the county’s Justice of the Peace position. To help the public better acquaint themselves with each of the candidates and their qualifications, the Leader distributed a questionnaire asking three things of each individual:
1. Why are you running for a seat in your local government?
2. What is your previous experience with local or state government?
3. What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?
Their responses are listed below.
1. I am running for Justice of the Peace because I believe that Justice Court needs a full time Justice that will give 100 percent to the position. I have considered this position over the past years making it a long term goal. With my training and experience in Criminal Justice I have the skills needed to make appropriate decisions based on the facts of a case while providing respect to the individuals I would be presiding over. Honesty, integrity and reliability are three traits of a Justice of the Peace. This combined with knowledge of criminal procedure is key to a successful partnership with the community.
2. This is the first time I have run for any public office. My experience has included working with others in all facets of the Criminal Justice System including District Court judges, County Attorney and Public Defenders, Justice Court and City Judges, Sheriffs and the Clerk of Court. Each position has a vital role in keeping the Justice system moving forward. With a high volume of criminal and civil cases each year, Justice Court requires a productive team to maintain the constant flow.
3. As the Justice of the Peace I would seek funding for a DUI Court. This has been attempted in the past and I believe deserves the attention of our community. DUI Court would supervise willing offenders with the assistance of a misdemeanor Probation Officer and other technologies available to us. This program is designed to hold the offender accountable over a period of time while receiving treatment (s), obtaining employment (if none) and other skills needed to be successful. Justice Court will also be seeking new innovative programs that could be utilized in sentencing to decrease recidivism while keeping the offender accountable.
1. A desire to continue in public service and to contribute to the community through my proven reputation of fairness, commitment, integrity and over 30 years experience with the law.
2. Mineral County Sheriff’s Office: 1979-1985
Mineral County Sheriff: Two terms
Assistant Chief, Lake County Sheriff’s Office: 1986-1998
City Commissioner, Polson
3. I take my civic responsibility of protecting citizens and ethical responsibility in keeping judgments fair, very seriously.
I hope to run an efficient court with a reputation of delivering fair, impartial justice with respect for individuals and victim rights.
1. I am running for Lake County Justice of the Peace to offer the citizens of Lake County a choice. There appears to be a lot of interest from law enforcement and attorneys. All candidates would be required to take the same training and pass the same test to be certified as a Justice of the Peace. This court of limited jurisdiction does not require you to be represented by an attorney and in most cases it would be beneficial to have someone with a broad range of experience and knowledge to make good common sense judgment decisions. That’s what I can offer to this office.
2. Both my wife and I have held numerous positions in local government. I served on the Lake County Conservation District Board for 15 years and was chairman of that board for most of those years. I went on to serve as the state wide president of the Montana Association of Conservation Districts for two years. I was elected and served as chairman of the City of Polson Study Commission in the 1990s and served on four state committees, appointed by three separate Governors of Montana.
3. As a banker with 35 years’ experience I made a living by listening to people, sorting out the facts and making fair decisions. I have the experience and reputation of being fair and honest, that’s what I can offer the citizens of Lake County. Someone who will work hard, really listen to everyone and make those decisions in a timely manner. This is a very important part of the justice system in Lake County and the office needs someone who the public feels will listen to their concerns and trust to be fair and honest.
1. More individuals are using the judicial system to settle disputes, thus the demand on a justice of the peace requires competent, fair, and a managerial style to meet the needs of people who come into the legal system.
With the demand by individuals for reasonable, quick resolution of their case and the complexity of applying the law to facts, it is essential that the justice of the peace is equipped to carry out these tasks.
Through the years, I received 3 college degrees. I amassed hundreds of clients and practiced law before federal court, district, justice, and tribal courts. Sure, that will greatly assist me.
2. What sets me apart for the Justice of the Peace is that I have relevant, diverse and extensive experience in law as an attorney and appellate court justice. As a former prosecutor, legal services attorney, managing owner/attorney of a professional limited liability company (Joey Jayne Law Office, PLLC) in the State of Montana, watershed manager, advocate, hydrologist, past Montana State Representative 2001-2008, and county extension agent, I have practiced before administrative tribunals, federal, tribal, state district courts, and justice courts.
I believe I earned the respect of Lake County residents in my district as a Montana State Representative (2001-2008) because I represented the concerns and needs of the people in my district in a fair, non-partisan, and competent manner. I will continue to bring those traits to justice court.
3. Maintain confidence, trust, stewardship of tax dollars in Justice Court because, we, the taxpayer, fund this sector of the judicial system. Thus, it is paramount that the new justice of the peace will be expedient, timely, and fair in accomplishing this goal. I can do that for you.
My 20 years of legal knowledge, experience, and skill as a private entrepreneur and employee will allow me to make law-based, wise, independent, timely, and unbiased decisions for you.
Edwin R. Jonas III
Instead of responding to our questionnaire as requested, the candidate submitted an article from another publication, saying that “I hope you will accept this in lieu of a separate writing to avoid further difference in your quality in regard to factual content.”
This is his response to Question No. 2: “Municipal Prosecutor for City involving pretty much the same type of cases that the Justice of Peace ”
1. This opportunity could not have come at a better time, considering my qualifications. I am 54 and my life is in good order. I have a stable wonderful family life (married 28 years). I have no financial debts; my house is paid for. My mind is clear to decide cases that will need a judge’s full attention. I was separated from the sheriff’s office in August due to a duty related injury, that the office states they cannot accommodate; therefore, I am at a crossroads where I know I can offer a positive service to all citizens of Lake County.
2. I have extensive experience in the private sector, and government. I have worked outside government more than half my working life. This background is important because I believe it gives me a balance to go with my experience working within government. In 1999 I began working five years as a Youth Court Officer, first for Lake County and then for the Montana Supreme Court. In 2005 I put myself through the Montana Law Enforcement Academy, which allowed me to serve seven years as a peace officer, including service in patrol, School Resource Officer, Detective, and heading up multiple special units.
3. I want to make sure that justice is readily and fairly available for all citizens. I want to insure honesty and fairness to all parties involved with the Justice Court. It is my goal to give timely decisions so that citizens have resolution for their disputed conflicts and that those coming into contact with the Justice Court will leave knowing that they were always treated with respect and dignity. I wish to continue to serve Lake County citizens in a manner that will earn their trust and goodwill.
1. I want this to be about the people and what I can do to make a difference. The courtroom is what you make of it. I will dedicate myself to serving the people. I have the time and energy to do anything and everything for the benefit of our community. I am acquainted with the problems in the community and will work to resolve them. I care for each individual as a person and would like to see everyone prosper.
2. I’m not afraid to make hard decisions as well as getting matter taken care of. Successfully owning and operating my businesses has allowed me to work with the community and manage employees. I believe we need someone to lead and make the hard decisions that will allow us to become what I know Lake County can be. While running, I have learned a great deal and when elected, I will continue to listen and excel. Even without a law degree, I will get the job done. I will use common sense. Elect someone who will make a difference, ELECT DARYL KERR.
3. Justice will become smooth and effective. I will be fair, but strict to make a difference in our community. Appointing the right program and using time wisely will save community money. I feel that Community Service vs. Jail Time can vastly improve Lake County as a whole. Individuals with minor violations will benefit from Community Service as opposed to Jail Time (this will save tax dollars). Fines and fees paid by Internet will make the system run more efficiently.
Kathleen O’Rourke Mullins
1. I am running for Justice of the Peace because this position would be a logical progression of my career, and would allow me to apply my professional expertise and skills in a way most beneficial to the greatest number of citizens.
I graduated from the U.M. School of Law and have been a practicing trial attorney in western Montana for twenty two years. I have specialized in courtroom practice, and have handled hundreds of cases at every court level, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. You deserve a judge who brings the most qualifications to the position and will hit the ground running.
2. I was the first female deputy county attorney hired in Lake County. Five weeks into the job, I tried a very difficult case involving felony sexual assault upon a child, which had been ongoing for 16 months before my hire. I received a jury guilty verdict. Ruth Hodges, Patricia Cook and I designed and instituted the tax deed procedures, which allowed Lake County to collect past due property taxes for the first time and have generated a great deal of income for the County since. The County was my only government employer. I am currently a self-employed business owner.
3. Candidates for JP agree that honesty, integrity, and common sense are qualities one must bring to this position. The majority of candidates do possess these traits, leaving it difficult for the voter to determine which candidate is most worthy of their vote. Candidates with experience in law enforcement agree that training and experience in Montana law would be an asset in the JP position. I hope to bring the highest degree of legal education, training and experience to this position, a skill set I have acquired over 25 years, for I believe you deserve a judge who brings the most overall qualifications to the job.
1. Justice of the Peace is a position that requires integrity, judgment, common sense, legal knowledge, and experience. I’m a Lake County native and have practiced law here since I got my degree sixteen years ago. Therefore, as it happens I am the most qualified possible candidate against those standards. That I am so makes running a public duty incumbent upon me.
2. I was a Federal employee for eleven years, while a midshipmen at the Naval Academy and as a combat officer of Marines. I have no state government experience, but locally, I have nearly twenty man-years experience as City Attorney to two municipalities. Additionally, I have served in Judge Wall’s absence on the Justice Court bench for ten years, and as a consequence have extensive experience with the actual people and processes, which means I can hit the ground running.
3. The swift and just administration of justice in the Justice of the Peace court. No former Captain of Marines takes any guff from anybody; the JP court is the people’s court, and no one - not lawyer, not party - will ever have the chance to bully anyone in my courtroom. And certainly I have no fear of hard decisions; it is in fact what I have trained for and practiced all of my adult life and what I do best. Fair, fast, and equal justice to all is my goal.
1. I am running for the local government because it has been given an opportunity to re-establish itself as being the best county to live in.
2. I am going to use my previous experience working with the court as a clerk and as a judge to help ensure our local government continues on this same track.
3. Upon being elected I will give the citizens the fairness they deserve and should expect. I hope that will be the biggest accomplishment of all our elected officials.
1. I have served the public for nearly 30 years, mostly with Fish Wildlife and Parks as the local game warden. Over the last 7 months I have been employed as a police officer for the City of Polson. I AM a public servant, it is what I do best.
After the untimely resignation of JP Chuck Wall, I was overwhelmed with encouragement and support from my fellow law enforcement officers, prosecutors and citizens to run for the vacant Justice of the Peace seat.
I have always been known here in Lake County and the Flathead Indian Reservation as a fair and understanding law enforcement officer with a wealth of common sense. I care about the people I work for and it has shown throughout my career as a law enforcement officer. I wish to carry on my common sense application of law to the citizens.
Over the years, the finest Justices of Peace I have worked with have always been retired law enforcement officers. I believe becoming a judge is a natural progression of a positive law enforcement career.
2. In 1979 I was hired by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as a fish and game warden. I retired in 2007 to take position with Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources as the statewide hunter education coordinator. In 2009 I returned to Montana and volunteered as a reserve deputy with Lake County until I was hire by the City of Polson as a police officer.
I have issued over 1800 notices to appear (tickets) into the Justice Court system during my tenure. I have been to trial a dozens times. Half of those were tribal/state jurisdictional test cases. For most of my adult life I have been involved with the judicial system.
3. One of the main things I will do is make prompt decisions on cases. Too many times, cases are left for months on the judge’s desk waiting for a decision. It is not fair to the victim(s) or the offender to leave a verdict hanging.
I hope to develop a productive and positive work place for the clerical staff. New sentencing methodologies, such as a community service work detail programs will be explored.
No one deserves to be hit or emotional assaulted. Domestic abuse will get priority in my court as will DUI sentencing. DUI is a huge issue here in Montana. I have witnessed it first hand many times as a police officer. A person shouldn’t be afraid to drive at night.
I am the only candidate that fully understands fish and game law. Offenders will face stern sentencing in my rulings.
Most importantly I wish to make the office of Justice of the Peace a respected and accountable part of the judicial system for the citizens for which it serves.
The candidate did not respond to our questionnaire.