City Judge hopes residents will become informed

Guest Commentary
By 
Jean Kerr
Laurel City Court Judge
Thursday, July 15, 2021

This information is in response to some of the inaccurate/misleading/partial information presented to Laurel City Council, Laurel Outlook and Citizens of Laurel by Juliane Lore, candidate running for the position of Laurel City Court Judge in the upcoming election in November.

Juliane Lore made a presentation before the City Council on July 6, 2021 requesting the City of Laurel to change Laurel City Court to a Municipal Court which would only allow attorneys who have been in practice for three years or more to preside over Laurel City Court. Ms. Lore gave false and incomplete information when making comparisons between the two courts. She stated as reported by the Laurel Outlook, ‘Laurel City Court cannot issue warrants, cannot handle civil issues or small claims and judgements are not enforceable’ and a municipal court is able to do all this. This information is blatantly false. Laurel City Court issues warrants regularly. Laurel City Court does handle and processes civil issues such as temporary orders of protection, orders of protection, landlord/tenant issues, civil issues that meet the qualifications by law to be handled in this Court. All judgements are enforceable and legal. Ms. Lore stated Laurel City Court cannot handle small claims cases. That is true but a Municipal Court cannot legally handle small claims cases either. Only Justice Court and District Court can handle small claims issues as mandated by law.

Her other points presented were that Laurel has grown and needs a municipal court. While it is true Laurel has grown, there are many options that the City of Laurel Council and citizens should be aware of before making any decisions regarding changing Laurel City Court and how it will serve the City in the future. There needs to be a thought process and the citizens need to have a voice as to the cause and effects of the Court structure they desire, and the Council then act accordingly.

There have been articles written about Laurel City Court personnel issues. I could not comment about the Union grievance between the Court Clerks and the City of Laurel. I can state that the two Laurel City Clerks are very professional, skilled and an asset to Laurel City Court and this town. The Court is also functioning well and not in the manner as presented in the Outlook. The [gathering] of the information, which is also questionable as far as bias, was illegally released to the paper without any thought regarding ethics and rights of which an attorney is to uphold

My hope is the citizens of Laurel educate themselves by attending City Council Workshops/Meetings which are held on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers in the Laurel City Hall or watch the proceedings via Facebook by signing on to the City of Laurel, Montana webpage. I encourage everyone to attend/tune in to the workshop on July 20, 2021 to learn about the options for Laurel City Court if changes are to be made for the 2026 term of office.

Sincerely,

Judge Jean M. Kerr

(editor’s note: The Outlook received all documents regarding the complaint filed by the City Clerks and the follow-up investigation legally, and no one has disputed that the documents are genuine.)

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