Voters will have a wide breadth of experience to consider when choosing to cast their ballot for either Heidi Ulbricht or Vanessa Ceravolo, the candidates in the race for District Court Department 3 judge.
As Kalispell’s judge for municipal court since 1994, Ulbricht said she is prepared to take on the amount of cases a district court judge faces. She’s been able to keep up on her docket through efficiencies, Ulbricht said, and her experience on the bench will ease the transition to district court.
“With my judge education and training, it isn’t going to take me long to figure out the lay of the land,” Ulbricht said.
If elected, Ulbricht said she would try to use as much technology on the bench as possible, such as uploaded pre-trial briefs and motions, which could enable her to issue an order at the end of a hearing whenever possible.
Ulbricht said she enjoys trial work, and has had her eye on a district court judgeship since clerking for a judge in Boise when she was fresh out of law school. There would not be any surprises for anyone appearing before her in court, Ulbricht said, because she maintains an even demeanor and temperament from the bench.
“I feel that judicial temperament is critical when you take the bench, and that people know they’re coming into a stable environment,” she said.
Ulbricht implemented a successful DUI and Drug Court in municipal court, and said she hopes to do the same at the district court level by 2014, despite the extra work it would require. Such a court would save money on revocations and provide more community safety, she said.
One of the biggest challenges in district court is the growing number of self-represented litigants, Ulbricht said, and judicial experience could help her handle these cases efficiently.
“I know how to be a judge,” she said. “District court would be the pinnacle of my career.”
Ceravolo has worked in private practice since 1992, and serves as an attorney and a mediator. She is also a qualified district court settlement master and once served as the assistant attorney general and administrative law judge in the U.S. Commonwealth in Saipan.
With her background in civil and family law, Ceravolo believes she would be efficient on the district court bench, especially in situations where children are involved, such as parenting plans.
“If the judge has the background, they can make the decision more readily,” Ceravolo said.
With a 28-year legal career already under her belt, Ceravolo said she would like to become a district court judge in order to give something back to the community, and help more people than she can as a solo practitioner.
Self-represented litigants pose a considerable challenge to the court system, she said, and as a member and advocate of the Northwest Montana Bar Association Pro Bono Committee, she believes she could help streamline these cases.
Ceravolo said she would be efficient in the day-to-day happenings of district court, and has no plans to pursue changes to the system for at least a year if elected.
“You have to take the cotton out of your ears and stuff it in your mouth,” Ceravolo said.
Her experience as a settlement master has given her experience in practiced neutrality and active listening, Ceravolo said, and she thinks she could help bring back some of the public’s faith in the justice system.
“If you did the right thing, if you present the facts, the law, when applied to those facts, would give you justice,” Ceravolo said. “I still believe that.”
The general election is Nov. 6
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