Billings Gazette Op-Ed: Critical experience for busiest court

“I served for nearly six years as a Billings municipal judge and presided over thousands of criminal cases, demonstrating an ability to make quick and fair decisions, while maintaining an even judicial temperament.”

Colette Davies for District Court JudgeOn the night of Sept. 24, right smack in the middle of campaigning, I was an unlikely victim of an armed carjacking on Billings’ West End. I had planned my day and thought I knew what it would hold. But life happens, often in a matter of seconds, and just like that, you become a statistic.

What happened afterward, though, has been extraordinarily comforting. I was privileged that night to work with law enforcement officers, many of whom I have known in my career as a lawyer and judge. These experienced officers did their jobs well, ending a violent crime spree with no significant injuries, and ensuring I was treated compassionately as someone who’d just been held up at gun point.

The next day, I received a call from our county attorney, outlining a process I know well. He assured me this situation would be dealt with professionally, which I don’t doubt, given the experience of the team of county attorneys. The matter will now move through our judicial system, and I am unexpectedly cast in the role of a witness, not a lawyer. Yet I am heartened by my confidence in our Yellowstone County officers, attorneys, and officials.

This startling intrusion of crime into my life has reminded me that the justice system has many moving parts, and every part must work well to result in justice. Whether it’s a misdemeanor crime or a felony crime spree, or whether it’s a contract dispute or a difficult custody matter, experience by those involved is critical.

In this election, I am the only candidate with significant civil, criminal and judicial experience. In 21 years, I have handled civil matters for businesses and individuals ranging from insurance and employment disputes to family law matters to class action litigation. I served for nearly six years as a Billings municipal judge and presided over thousands of criminal cases, demonstrating an ability to make quick and fair decisions, while maintaining an even judicial temperament. I worked hard to hold criminals accountable and keep our community safe.

Outside the courtroom, I helped develop our first misdemeanor drug court to reduce recidivism. I also served as an adjunct professor at MSUB, where I taught courses on criminal probation. I grew up here, and when it comes to serving the citizens of Yellowstone County, I have demonstrated my commitment to this community for decades, with hands-on service and leadership on many local boards.

Our District Court is by far the busiest in the state. And as you read this, the dockets for the two new judges are growing. The new judges must hit the ground running on day one. There is no time to ease in. With 21 years of varied experience as a lawyer and a judge, I’m prepared for the challenges of this court, and I’m ready now.

Please learn more about me on my website www.daviesforjudge.com or my Facebook page. You’ll find I am supported by folks from all different walks of life, including candidates from different parties like Russ Fagg and John Heenan, and like former Mayor Tom Hanel and former County Commissioner Bill Kennedy. I have received the backing of four sitting district court judges and scores of practicing attorneys in the Yellowstone County Bar.

Widespread support from my colleagues and neighbors is gratifying, but today I humbly ask for your vote so that I can bring my experience to the district court. I pledge to work with you — and for you — to take control of the statistics, ensure access to justice, and keep our community safe into the future.

Click here to read this editorial in the Billings Gazette.