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Letters: Ethan Lerman as municipal judge would address fines, incarceration

If you care about the misuse of fines and incarceration in Missoula courts, you should vote for Ethan Lerman as municipal judge. He is a compassionate, careful judge who works on this issue every day.

Right now, there is exactly one person in jail from the municipal court: a three-time DUI offender, whom Montana law requires to be locked up. That is a typical jail load at any time from the municipal court. Montana law also requires local judges to jail people who beat their partners, or steal more than three times.

Most of the municipal court’s time is spent on kids vaping and drinking underage, shoplifting, and citizens objecting to traffic tickets. When people with those violations have addiction or mental health issues, Ethan has found many ways to lower their fines, and to help them connect with services.

The slate of judge candidates called “Moving Justice Forward” may be naïve of the laws that they will have to follow as local judges. Or they may be cynically exploiting one of the most important issues that has risen with Black Lives Matter. Their misinformation can only trivialize and thwart the effort to provide fair justice in local courts for all of us in Missoula.