WALKER -- The following are questions those attending the Ninth Judicial Court candidate forum asked followed by the responses:
What did you do to prepare and work to learn about the Ninth Judicial District and its concerns:
Bolton: It takes humility and a recognition of the common man.
Harrington: Attended 17 county fairs in the district and tried to meet as many people as he could in the district, met with all 17 sheriffs and five current judges.
Lundrigan: Preparation for judicial office doesn't exist. Judges solve problems and I've done that for a long time.
Sommer: Poverty is one of the more significant issues in this area. I will handle cases relating to this effect. Judges have more opportunities than attorneys to address this issue.
Tiffany: As candidate, he found he needed to have his ears and eyes wide open and to draw on his life experiences. He said he has listened to his neighbors and talked to them about the Ninth District.
Have any of you been sanctioned in your law practice?
Tiffany: Received a private admonition once when I first started practice.
Bolton: Yes, in 1992 my license was suspended for 30 days for backdating two deeds.
In your judgment, clients may be special need individuals. Should they receive special treatment?
Lundrigan: I would ask if the person understands the charges. If the special needs situation caused the problem before the court, yes, the person would get special treatment. If it did not cause the problem, then the person would not.
Sommer: It is difficult to decide. Relying upon professionals giving opinions in court, as judge, I would need to look at the law and apply it. This is not easy to do.
Tiffany: Alcohol and drug abuse affect many people who come before criminal and family court. Whether those issues affect a case is hard to predict. It depends on the kind of case and court function in the case.
Bolton: Drug and alcohol abuse would have little effect before a court. The court alone can't solve those issues. The legal community deals pretty well with mental illness. A lot of recidivism comes today from methamphetamine lab activities.
Harrington: It would be decided on a case by case basis. Sometimes judges face deciding between a bad choice and a worse case in these situations. Advocates for the people involve determine a lot of the outcome.
What is your experience dealing with problematic youth?
Sommer: It's frightening to see a 12- or 13-year-old with a vacant stare and no appreciation for what they've done. Solid concerned parents and prevention, starting in grade school help most. Judges can try to help a child connect with the people around him or her. Oftentimes, court is only a Band-Aid.
Tiffany: Youth today grow up in completely different circumstances. A judge may be in a position to prevent problems if the judge can get through to the youths concerning why they are in court. Parenting is most important, but if a judge takes time to talk to juveniles, it can make a difference. Kids are forced to grow up too soon today.
Bolton: I don't think the court is a substitute for parents. It's frightening to raise children in today's complicated world. Judges aren't parents.
Harrington: While some people say, "Lock up the parents," you can't do that. Emphasis should be placed on preventing juvenile offenses, because juvenile offenders often later become adult offenders. While he said he has worked with community support programs for juveniles, he still doesn't have the answers.
Lundrigan: Every person and circumstance is different, but uniform standards and expectations need to be set when juveniles come to court. He would ask what is the act and who did it, who is responsible for the act, then set goals and remedies for the act.
Are there any new or different specific actions you would implement as judge?
Tiffany: I would be a good listener and impartial.
Bolton: Judges go to a school before they can sit on the bench. I would learn all I can at that school.
Harrington: I don't know where to start. There is so much going on. I would try to find out the right way.
Lundrigan: Punctuality and being prepared. These reflect on the judicial system. I would communicate to help the public understand the process. I would explain what's going on when and where. I would apply logic to the law and have equal rules and standards. More decisions are made from the bench after a case is presented
Sommer: Juvenile recidivism is a big issue. There need to be new types of sentencings. Overcrowded and inefficient court calendars leave people sitting all day to be heard. There needs to be enough time to be fair and just. There needs to be a better way to nail down restitution. There should be a new way to fund probation.
Explain civil-regulatory and criminal (law) when applied to an Indian reservation.
Bolton: I don't know.
Harrington: The tribe can exercise civil jurisdiction in place of state law.
Lundrigan: A reservation is a sovereign nation, which can have regulations under civil actions. State regulations may or may not apply. Criminal law depends upon facts and laws in place.
Sommer: Indian tribal nations versus state law is involved. Tribal law governs conduct, while state law governs prohibitions.
Tiffany: Indian tribes' sovereignty comes into conflict with state sovereignty. This area of the law is evolving yet, with more issues yet to come.
What does restorative justice mean to you?
Harrington: It is working to keep people out of jail by facing their community and having them live up for what they have done. There are five Indian reservations in the Ninth District. I would consider trying this.
Lundrigan: Restorative, as opposed to punitive, makes people restore themselves to their community. It could work for juveniles.
Sommer: It means restore and try to make whole. I would consider it as a way to heal. It is a worthy concept.
Tiffany: It is being considered more in the judicial system. Whether it works is yet to be determined. It places more responsibility on the community. It is designed to bring people closer together. It can help heal a community. Hopefully, it would stem some repeat offenses.
Bolton: I don't know what the concept means.
Describe your campaign financing:
Lundrigan: I have spent $52,349 of my own money so far.
Sommer: I have spent $8,000 so far.
Tiffany: I expect to spend $1,500 before the primary.
Bolton: I expect to spend $1,500 before the primary.
Harrington: I will spend $15,000 to $20,000 by the primary.
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