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Elections 2002 - Idaho District Court Judge

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Brent Featherston

by Brent E. Featherston

   I am a candidate for District Judge, elected by Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai, Shoshone and Benewah counties. Though the position primarily serves Bonner and Boundary counties, the District Judge serves the people of all five counties.

    This past decade, my legal practice concerned the representation of hard-working individuals and small businesses. I see that people are frustrated with their court system. Many believe the courts are inaccessible an unaccountable to the public. While I know many devoted people in our court system, I think we can do better.
    This is a rare occasion when north Idahoans will elect their next judge; not a political official, party or committee. The best Judge is one whose values are consistent with the community. For that reason, it’s important to know who you are voting for.
    My background is simple. My family’s roots in Idaho go back 100 years. My great-great Grandfather Willoughby and great-great Grandfather C.M. Munsey both served in the Idaho legislature in 1909 and 1939-41, respectively.
    My family moved to Sandpoint in 1971. I worked my way through school in construction. I attended law school on an academic merit scholarship. My wife and I have two children. She is an elementary school teacher in Sandpoint.
    As an Idahoan, I believe we are accountable for the decisions and choices we make, as citizens and as elected servants. If elected as Judge, I will bring accountability and experience to the position.
    The position of District Judge requires management of a large caseload which is approximately 60% criminal and 40% civil cases. Over the past decade I have tried well over 100 cases, both civil and criminal, before judges and juries. In criminal law, I have tried misdemeanors and felonies of all types. Five years ago, I spent four weeks in what was probably the most complex first degree murder case tried in North Idaho, involving DNA, fingerprint and handwriting forensic evidence and thousands of documents. In civil cases, I have tried fraud, negligence, contract, real estate, easement and boundary claims. I have argued complex legal issues before the appellate courts in our state. I have had the privilege of sitting on district and county committees of many types. My practice has involved me in some high-profile, and therefore high stress, cases, including representing the children’s’ interests in the McGuckin case last year; the homicide case, State V. Kuehl, referred to above; and the five “skinhead” young men who were arrested near the Randy Weaver stand-off. I know how to manage the stressful environment of the courtroom, especially in high profile cases.
    Of the candidates, I am the only one whose professional experience reflects the caseload and demands of the District Judge. As voters, do you want to elect a person who has no experience in 40%-60% of the job description? With my opponents, that is the choice. One is exclusively a civil attorney and the other is exclusively criminal. I will bring balanced experience to the job.
    The position of District Judge demands a person with energy, experience and vision. Your District Judge should be fair and impartial, which is why I will not run “endorsement” advertising, nor do I seek the endorsement of individuals or organizations. Both of my opponents have sought endorsements. I believe that creates a perception of influence on judicial candidates that I will avoid. I hope the voters will evaluate me on merit, not on endorsements.
    As District Judge, I will strive toward the following goals: Enhance confidence in our court system by keeping it open to the public; Hold criminal defendants accountable for their actions while using successful treatment programs; Increase public access to our court system by reducing procedures that increase expenses, and finding new ways to enhance individual access to our courts; Expand and develop alternative dispute resolution in civil cases, such as mediation, arbitration, and “Settlement Week.”; Reduce frustration by moving cases forward to trial; Treat all individuals with the respect and dignity they deserve; preserve the rights of individuals as is the heritage of our society; act promptly and decisively but with consideration and wisdom; Uphold your trust as District Judge. Please vote in the primary on May 28th. “We must never forget that the only real source of power that we as judges can tap is the respect of the people.” United States Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, Chicago Tribune,  8/15/81


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