Missoula Justice of the Peace Marie Andersen has been under fire over a recent investigation and report conducted by Missoula County Commissioners regarding her management of Justice Court 1.

Andersen released a statement to KGVO and the Missoulian on Tuesday, July 31. In it, she focuses on the harsh criticism she has received from her opponent in the upcoming election, Alex Beal.

The statement can be read in full, below.

Our County Courts Deserve The Best

Exciting Times

My name is Marie Andersen. Missoula County voters elected me to be their Judge in 2014. I write to address my political opponent’s recently published attack on me, as well as the article concerning the report on the Missoula County Justice Court.

It’s an exciting time in our court. For the first time, there will be one manager for both Justice Courts (my court and Judge Holloway’s court). It’s in the best interest of both courts, staff and public to have a single administrative manager working cooperatively and collaboratively insuring a smooth and efficient process for citizens and staff alike. The process has already begun. I look forward to meeting with Human Resources and Judge Holloway so we can give input regarding this new position and court structure. It will allow us to focus on being the best possible judges — a task for which we were elected to fulfill.

Election Year Shenanigans

In a recent Guest Editorial my political opponent, Mr. Beal, suggested that I cause harm to women who are victims of domestic violence and/or crimes. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a judge and a woman, this political maneuvering sickens me.

Mr. Beal, did you know:

My first job out of law school (1995) was representing, for free, clients at the Missoula Crime Victim Advocates’ Office. I represented victims of domestic violence (mostly women) at Order of Protection My first client was taken hostage by her abuser, others were badly beaten; all of them were terrified it would happen again. As a woman, I empathized deeply with their situation; as a human being, I was profoundly disturbed by their tormentors. I am not insensitive or dismissive of these cases, not then and certainly not now.

I completed two intensive courses through the National Judicial College specifically for judges handling cases involving domestic violence. After feeling and seeing the pain suffered by those experiencing domestic violence, I knew it was of utmost importance that I understood, within our laws, how I could best respond to the requested protections victims sought in my court. I have never backed away from my commitment to do everything legally possible to protect victims from further harm.

And Mr. Beal, since you brought your repulsive accusation forward, I will share a personal story. I was a victim of sexual assault. It was the most surreal, horrific experience I have ever had to endure. I am crystal clear on the ongoing trauma and fear associated with being a victim of a violent crime. As a judge and a woman, I will not knowingly or negligently put victims in harm’s way, ever!

To be clear, I will not allow further harm or indignities to be perpetrated upon any victim in my court: women, children, men or the elderly. Mr. Beal’s suggestion that I do is revolting.

To use an issue that causes pain for so many people and to paint a wholly inaccurate picture of me is repugnant. Mr. Beal’s unprovoked actions, just to gain political advantage, puts his ability to serve as an honorable judge to question if he were to be elected.

In closing, know that I greatly respect our Constitution, support the Rule of Law and will defend the rights of Missoula County citizens. I preside in a ‘peoples’ court where many Missoulians may find themselves someday. I will continually strive to be a compassionate judge and citizen. I humbly ask for your continued support, your vote this November, and the opportunity to continue serving as your chosen judge.

-- Judge Marie Andersen, Missoula County Municipal Court

KGVO News has reached out to Mr. Beal and is awaiting a response.

Andersen is running for reelection in November’s general election.