I am pleased to announce my candidacy for the position of Helena Municipal Court Judge. Most Montanans experience our judicial system through the justice and municipal courts. The bulk of the case load in the lower courts is comprised of misdemeanor criminal offenses, such as partner/family member assault, traffic violations, and DUI’s. The lower courts also address civil claims and orders of protection. After 28 years of consistent practice in the lower courts, I feel well qualified and entirely prepared to serve the people of Helena in this position. Having served as substitute justice of the peace in Jefferson County for many years, I‘ve had an opportunity to develop my judicial skills from decades of real-world, legal experience.
I started my legal career 1992 in Helena as a law clerk for District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock. From 1994 through 2008, I was a partner in a small rural law firm with a focus on civil and criminal litigation. During this time I was also the part-time city attorney for the Town of Whitehall. In this position I provided legal advice to the town council and also prosecuted misdemeanor criminal offenses, which included traffic offenses, DUI’s, and partner/family member assaults.
My Montana Supreme Court appearances include a defense of Whitehall’s ordinance that required the use of water meters as a conservation measure. I drafted the ordinance requiring the installation of water meters while serving as city attorney. Oral argument was granted and I successfully argued the appeal with then deputy assistant attorney general Steve Bullock.
From 2002 through 2008, I served as the contract public defender for Jefferson County. I have tried over 150 civil and criminal cases to final verdicts in Montana state and federal courts. I have appeared before the Montana Supreme Court numerous times and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit twice. Both Ninth Circuit matters were granted oral argument.
I was the trial and appellate attorney in a case where the Montana Supreme Court reversed the defendant’s 38 convictions in the largest illegal outfitting case in Montana history.
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In 2010, I was involved in a case that received national attention when I successfully defended wildlife filmmaker John Lewton against felony criminal charges in three separate jury trials. The prosecution of the cases arose from an undercover sting operation where a world class trophy bighorn sheep was killed in Chouteau County’s Missouri River Breaks by an undercover FWP agent posing as a hunter in a misguided and failed attempt to entrap Lewton.
Having prosecuted, defended and adjudicated over 100 DUI case to final verdicts, I have the experience necessary to be an effective municipal court judge. I recently tried a case of first impression in Lewis and Clark County, where my client, a state employee, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. My client’s blood was tested and was found to have been under the legal limit for both alcohol (.08g/ml) and THC (5ng/ml). He was acquitted after I was able to demonstrate to the jury that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Montana State Crime Lab had never adopted the unproven scientific theory that blood alcohol concentration and THC concentration were “additive.” Expertise in this important area of criminal law in order to safeguard our community and also the rights of the accused is not only necessary, but is imperative for a judicial candidate to possess prior to taking the bench.
I would appreciate your vote in the upcoming primary election on Sept. 10 and the general election on Nov. 5. Thank you and I look forward to serving the people of Helena.
Jack Morris is a fourth generation Montanan and the brother of former Montana Supreme Court Justice and current U.S. federal judge Brian Morris. He is a graduate of the University of Montana and Gonzaga School of Law. He has been practicing law in Helena since 2008. While not in court Morris is also an avid kayaker, hiker, skier and mountain biker and is the proud father of daughters Zara and Mia. A Helena attorney and his sister-in-law, Cherche Prezeau, is his campaign treasurer. Morris’ campaign can be reached by email at email@example.com.