Address: P.O Box 718, Helena, MT 59624
Contact info: email: email@example.com; phone: (406) 459-7196
Education: B.A. Carroll College, History Major, Business Administration Minor;
M.A. Washington State University, U.S. History, Emphasis on American West
Occupation: Deputy Clerk of the Montana Supreme Court
Relevant Experience: Over 24 years (23 as Deputy Clerk) working in the Office of Clerk of the Montana Supreme Court
Why are you running for this office?
There is nothing glamourous or high-profile about the Office of Clerk of the Montana Supreme Court – nor should there ever be. While most Montanans don’t interact with the clerk’s office, it is nevertheless an extremely important statewide elected office that has existed since statehood in 1889 and is critical to the day-to-day operations of our state’s judicial system and is responsible for licensing Montana’s attorneys. It is an office where experience and independence matter most. Here’s why:
In Montana, the entire judicial branch is elected, and along with judges and justices, clerks of court are elected to encourage the responsive and accessible administration of justice. Within this system, the independent clerk is beholden to the public acting as a check and balance within the judicial branch by establishing and protecting the public record upon which judges and justices rule. The appellate process is a technical one and the clerk of the supreme court acts as the public face of the Court directly serving the public, who must rely upon the clerk for assistance since the public cannot communicate directly with the justices regarding ongoing cases. Again, experience matters.
I’m running because I believe in the role of this public office. For over 24 years (23 as the Deputy Clerk) I have spent my professional career assisting people in getting their cases heard before the supreme court and aiding the court with its tremendous responsibility in making its decisions. The clerk does not influence outcomes or the court’s opinions and I believe no matter the issue that comes before the court, politics and opinions must never be introduced by the clerk. Rather, I believe in independent and direct service to the people of this wonderful state, so that everyone is treated fairly and with the respect all deserve when dealing with the state supreme court. Also, as a public servant I believe it’s important to foster, through assistance and service, our citizens’ faith and trust in our courts, even if the outcome does not go their way. For me, promoting trust in our institutions is no small matter for our state and for our society.
What do you hope to accomplish in this office?
Montanans have both a constitutional right to know and to openly observe how its government works and a constitutional right to individual privacy. It is the independent clerk who bears this important responsibility with regard to court records. All Montanans, no matter their background, status, or influence deserve and should expect their elected clerk of the supreme court to protect and guarantee access to these records as is their right and to protect the privacy of those records when information is to be kept confidential by law. The fact the judiciary is the most remote branch of the three branches of government makes these protections and free and open access to the courts imperative for the public to have trust in it as an institution. I believe the more and easier ways the public can access the important work of the court, the more trust it will have in our courts and our governmental institutions. I am committed to improving access, ensuring protections, and making better our court processes.
To that end as Clerk, I will use my experience to develop new ways for the court system to better serve the public by continuing to enhance the office’s digital filing capabilities, remote access, and new technology. At the same time, I will not lose sight of what often matters most–person to person service, someone there to help answer questions and assist in court filings. I believe government works best when it works to serve everyone and I will work hard to ensure our state continues to have a responsive, independent judiciary that is dedicated to fairness, open access, and justice for all.
Why should people vote for you?
Experience and independence matter. Although this is a partisan race on the ballot, it should be an independent office in practice. Partisanship should not play any role in performing the duties of Clerk of the Montana Supreme Court. Experience and competency are what matter in this job. I truly believe Montanans want and deserve qualified officials who simply do their job to the best of their ability without politicizing these roles or using them as stepping stones to higher office. At the end of the day, this office is about responsibly protecting public access to court records, licensing Montana’s attorneys, and assisting the Court and the public with their cases. That’s what I’ve done every day for over 24 years, and that’s why I'm now running to carry on that commitment to service as Montana’s next Clerk of the Supreme Court. I’d be honored to continue serving our state, and I’d appreciate your vote this fall.
-- This written response was provided by the candidate.