Voters will select between three individuals this November to function the second full-time choose within the Bozeman Municipal Court docket.
The municipal courtroom handles misdemeanor prison costs, like some DUIs, and civil proceedings, like municipal infractions and orders of safety. The courtroom has one full-time elected choose and one part-time appointed choose, however Bozeman’s rising inhabitants and a signed senate invoice requiring elected judges to serve full-time have bumped up the number of full-time city court judges in Bozeman to two.
The three candidates for the place all have expertise each as attorneys and because the ones with the gavel.
Decide Colleen Herrington is the present part-time municipal courtroom choose and has been for nearly a decade; Sheryl Wambsgans, a personal apply lawyer, fills in for Herrington and Decide Karl P. Seel after they’re out of city or unable to strive a case; and Magdalena Bowen is the present district courtroom standing grasp, dealing with confidential household regulation circumstances like adoption.
Seel will likely be up for election in 2023. The 2 choose positions are elected in staggered years, so there gained’t be one yr with a complete judicial turnover within the municipal courtroom.
Herrington has been the part-time choose for nearly a decade and stated that the place has been ramping up hours from half-time to three-quarters time lately, so the legislative change that bumped it as much as a full-time elected place wasn’t a serious shock.
“I actually imagine that my expertise and the truth that I’ve been doing this job actually makes me prepared from day one,” Herrington stated. “”Once I began, I had this studying curve. However this time I wouldn’t as a result of I might simply be persevering with my work … permitting me to work full-time will give me the power to do extra for this group.”
In 2017, Herrington, an officer within the Montana Nationwide Guard, spearheaded the institution of the Bozeman Veteran Eligible Remedy Companies courtroom.
“The Veterans Eligible Remedy Companies Court docket does serve veterans which have gotten concerned within the prison justice system, and we’re serving to them to attempt to get out of it,” Herrington stated.
If she’s elected, Herringon stated she’d wish to work towards establishing different specialty courts, like a DUI courtroom, particularly after seeing the success of the Veterans Eligible Remedy Companies Court docket.
Earlier than being appointed to the municipal courtroom in 2012, Herrington was a public defender and, after that, a personal apply lawyer with a concentrate on chapter and tax regulation. She has a grasp’s diploma in accounting from Montana State College, a regulation diploma from the College of Maryland in Baltimore and an undergraduate diploma in accounting and administration from Mercer College in Georgia.
Bowen has been serving as the standing master in Gallatin County since 2010. She stated she’s gunning for the municipal courtroom choose place as a result of she desires to assist individuals having their first interactions with the courtroom system perceive what’s taking place, assist them really feel listened to and, hopefully, preserve them out of courtrooms sooner or later.
“I like for individuals to know what it’s we’re doing and why I’ve determined issues the way in which that I’ve,” Bowen stated. “My judicial philosophy is that everybody is a vital a part of the method.”
Bowen stated her expertise serving as standing grasp, in addition to prior expertise as a public defender, will assist her apply the regulation in a means that’s honest and thoughtful whereas nonetheless holding accountable those that have been convicted or pleaded responsible to a criminal offense with out shaming them.
“I can use the talents that I’ve to be instantly responsive and impactful to the group,” Bowen stated. “It is a place I will be open to the group’s wants we hear.”
Whereas municipal courtroom offers with lower-level crimes and infractions, Bowen stated these are an enormous deal for individuals going through misdemeanor allegations for the primary time of their life. She stated she’d use the courtroom to assist individuals preserve these first or early interactions with the justice system to be the one interactions.
“My job is to not disgrace (defendants),” she stated. “My job is to carry you accountable and to encourage you to do higher.”
Earlier than turning into standing grasp in 2010, Bowen practiced as each a public defender and personal lawyer doing prison and civil regulation. Raised in Bozeman, she graduated from Montana State College and obtained her regulation diploma from the College of Colorado in Boulder.
Wambsgans has been training regulation since 2012 in Gallatin County and surrounding areas and, for the previous a number of years, has stuffed in on the bench in municipal courtroom when the opposite judges are unavailable or when there’s a battle of curiosity.
For the primary roughly three years of her profession, her circumstances have been “nearly solely” in Bozeman municipal courtroom.
“I’ve had that have on the bench in that courtroom and in addition on the opposite aspect,” she stated. “I’ve obtained relationships with the attorneys in the neighborhood which are particularly in that courtroom … so I believe that places me in a novel place to run for this.”
Wambsgans is a co-founder and co-owner of Bridger Regulation, a personal regulation agency with specialties in household regulation, misdemeanor DUI protection, chapter and mediation. She stated she’s centered her profession on being a choose sometime and, along with her expertise in municipal courtroom, feels that she’s prepared to take action now.
“I do imagine integrity is the keystone of our judicial system,” she stated. “Having the ability to stand your floor however have compassion for what the individuals in entrance of you’re going via.”
Wambsgans is a substitute choose within the courtroom about as soon as a month, she stated. She sees trials throughout when she begins them.
“I attempt to be as obtainable as I can after they want it, as a result of I like doing it,” she stated.
Wambsgans, who graduated from highschool in Bozeman, acquired her regulation diploma from the College of Denver-Sturm. She’s a skilled mediator and a member of the Affiliation of Household and Conciliation Courts.