Voices: Retired District Court judge backs Marks; ‘Right person for the job’

Judge Karen Townsend

The upcoming election will ask us to make choices about many races. One race that is flying under the radar, but is critically important, is the race for District Court Judge in Department 4.

This judge serves the people in both Missoula and Mineral counties and is tasked with making decisions that affect the everyday lives of countless citizens. The District Court handles serious criminal matters, juvenile matters both juvenile criminal and abuse and neglect cases, family law cases, probate cases, involuntary commitments for those in a mental health crisis, and civil law disputes.

I had the very good fortune of serving as your District Court Judge for eight years. I know that the position requires hard work, dedication to the law, patience, and compassion. I was proud to serve as the first woman District Judge for the 4th Judicial District and equally proud when Judge Halligan assumed the bench after Judge McLean retired. Although I believe in diversity and the importance of having women and minorities in such positions, I do not believe that a woman should be chosen for such a position just because she is a woman.

A District Judge position should not be filled with an individual just to check off a certain demographic or to break up a pattern. The candidate for this important position needs to be evaluated on the strength and relevance of his or her experience, and is the case in this race, how the sitting judge has been performing in the position.

I was very pleased that Jason Marks was chosen by the Governor to replace me. He had the experience, temperament, and work ethic needed to assume this role. He was the right person for the job. For the last year he has demonstrated the qualities that each of us would want in a judge. I enthusiastically endorse him, and urge you to vote for him and allow him to continue to serve the people in this district.

Before I became a Judge, I often thought about the traits that I admired in a “good judge.” Those traits are: even temper, impartiality, humility, fairness, empathy, open-mindedness, decisiveness, confidence, effective communication skills, a natural curiosity for learning, an insatiable quest for truth and justice, and the ability to interpret and apply legal principles to a given set of factual circumstances.

Judge Marks has these traits and they have been recognized by a diverse group of Missoula and Mineral County citizens. He is endorsed by all the sitting judges in this district and most of the retired judges. These men and women have worked with him before he was named to the bench and during the time he has served as your judge. Although he had a significant career in the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, those that were on opposite sides of his cases have endorsed him as well.

These individuals recognize his competence, his judicial temperament, and his ability to treat all who come before him with respect and fairness. They know, as do I, that he will continue to serve the District well. Please join all of us in voting to retain Judge Marks.

Karen S. Townsend, District Court Judge, Retired