New Municipal Judge has Homeless Woman Arrested to Get Her Help
Three new Missoula Municipal Judges were elected on Tuesday, and all three, Jennifer Streano, Eli Parker and Jacob Coolidge are currently public defenders and campaigned together to bring changes to Municipal Court.
Coolidge and Parker appeared on the KGVO Talk Back show to talk about their victory.
Parker related a true story of an election night encounter with a homeless woman who he found had broken into his car.
“Last night at our election party, I came out to my car and I found a homeless woman in my car,” said the public defender Parker. “No, my car wasn’t locked. That's my fault. It actually doesn't lock from the outside. I asked her, ‘Would you please get out of my car I'm going to have to call 911’. And the officer came and that's what it took to get her out, and we had an interesting conversation about well, do you want to ticket her or not, and I chose to.”
Parker said his choice was to just let her go and repeat what she did to someone else, or have her arrested so that she might get access to services that might be able to help her.
“Then she just would have gone and probably kept on doing the same thing,” he said. “These are the kinds of things that the Municipal Court is there for, and so what we're talking about here is trying to find better things that work.”
Coolidge admitted that having all three taking up their judgeships simultaneously would enable them to implement their plans to bring changes to the Municipal Court.
“We're hoping to start to make a better Municipal Court,” said Coolidge. “We're hoping to start to implement programs that that get people to not commit crime as much as they have, and hopefully save the taxpayers money in the process. So we're just ready to implement ideas and also to work with folks to make sure our ideas are working. So we've been talking about it a lot on the campaign trail and now, because we won, the rubber meets the road.”
Coolidge admitted the fact that the campaign was the first of its kind.
“This is a pretty historic race,” he said. “For one big reason; it was the first time we've elected three judges at the Municipal Court level, but it's also the first time that we've had three public defenders, elected by Missoula. We put together a campaign that was highly energetic. We had an incredible group of volunteers, and we put out a message that Missoulians chose.”
The three new Municipal Court judges will begin their terms in January.
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