The list of endorsements for Brendan McQuillan for Missoula Municipal Court Judge includes these Missoula elected officials and notable Missoulians
State Senators Cynthia Wolken and Ron Erickson
State Representatives Ellie Hill and Nate McConnell
Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst
Missoula County Sheriff TJ McDermott
Missoula County Clerk Tyler Gernant
Regional Director for the Office of the Public Defender Jennifer Streano
City Councilmembers Jason Wiener, Emily Bentley, and Annelise Hehdahl
Missoula County Commissioner Cola Rowley
As well as: Marie Andersen, Eldena Bear Don’t Walk, Larry Mansch, Dustin Monroe, Katie Carlson, Jess Grennan, Benjamin Darrow, Emily Likins-Ehlers, Jim Parker, Jim Taylor, Jason Marks, Cynthia Ford, Bryan Tipp, Richard R. Buley, Karen Buley, Jen Gursky, Peter F. Lacny, Robin Hamilton, Jocelyn Siler, Amanda Darrow, Dwight Schulte, Jenny Kaleczyc, Thomas C. Orr, William E. Rideg, Ashley Morigeau, Josh Morigeau, Jerry Fetz, Christopher Abbott, Shahid Haque, Colin Stephens, John S. Adams, Brooke Perkins Lainsbury, Chuck Erickson, Barbara Berens, Morgan Smith, Reid Reimers, Rob Henry, Natalie Wicklund, Angela Goodhope, Christopher Orman, Richard Raugust, Sarah Ferguson, Tobias Cook, James Lapotka, Smith and Stephens P.C. Law Office, Peter Delmoe, Ase Carlson, Britt and Jamie Cotter, Lael Gabrian, Sarah Lockwood, Molly Owen and Adam Fangsrud
Guest Post By Ellie Hill
It’s time for New Leadership at the Missoula City Court
Until you end up with a traffic ticket, many Missoulians don’t pay much attention to our Municipal Court. But anyone who cares about the city’s budget concerns, improving community safety, and bringing back common sense should pay attention to this race and support candidate Brendan McQuillan, a Missoulian who has excellent experience, a sharp mind, and a good heart.
Under Judge Kathleen Jenks, Missoula’s Municipal Court has exceeded its budgets and increased the rate of incarceration for non-violent offenders. Municipal Court handles mainly traffic infractions and relatively minor cases, but how they are handled has a big impact on people’s lives as well as the broader community. Judge Jenks’ heavy-handed approach has caused many people who can’t afford a measly $100 traffic fine to end up sitting in jail instead of being able to go to work to earn money to pay their fine, not to mention put food on the table and keep their kids in clothes. When people lose their jobs because they’re in jail, it makes it that much harder to pay their fines, and only serves to further destabilize their lives. This needlessly hurts people and their families, and it hurts the community too. The daily population of Missoula’s jail has increased almost 20% between 2011 and 2015, according to the Missoula Jail Diversion Master Plan, and the average length of time each inmate stays has increased as well. If this trend continues, officials say Missoula’s jail will need to be expanded, costing millions of dollars to build and run. Jailing more non-violent people for longer periods of time is the wrong approach for our community.
Missoula spent almost a year creating a community jail diversion plan, based upon input from local law enforcement, the City Council, and other stakeholders in the hospital and legal communities. But after all this hard work, Judge Jenks refused to even try out a jail diversion pilot project. She told City Council she had higher priorities—unfortunately, her priorities don’t line up with the best interests and priorities of the Missoula community she is supposed to serve. Though Judge Jenks won’t consider alternatives to improve the outcomes of her court, she has asked for more money to hire another assistant part-time judge, but sinking more money into Judge Jenks court isn’t the right solution.
We need a Municipal Judge who will work well with others to find more cost-effective ways to manage the court. But it’s not just about budgets and understanding the major impact one judge’s decision has on a defendant and everyone who depends on him. When our jail is overcrowded with nonviolent offenders, violent offenders in other courts may be released into the community because there are no open jail beds. Victims of violent crime, and citizens at large want to see our jail used to house dangerous people who may hurt others, not people who are too poor to pay speeding tickets.
In his campaign, Candidate Brendan McQuillan has made clear that he understands the importance of good communication and cooperation with other stakeholders in the justice system. He supports alternatives that will save money and improve local lives, and he supports common sense and creative solutions.
With experience as both a sex-crimes prosecutor and a public defender, McQuillan understands these issues and will work hard to achieve the best outcome for victims, defendants, and our community at large. McQuillan was born and raised in Missoula, and graduated from Hellgate High School. He received both his undergraduate and his law degrees from the University of Montana. His daughter attends Missoula County Public Schools. We’re endorsing McQuillan because he knows our community, he knows the justice system, and he will be an excellent leader of our Municipal Court.
It’s time to elect new leadership for Missoula Municipal Court—please support Brendan McQuillan.