Justice of peace: Kalispell lawyer touts substitute judge experience

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Paul Sullivan

Age: 37

Party: Nonpartisan

Family: Wife: Marybeth Sampsel; children: Effie, 5, Josie, 2, and Dewey, 4 months.

Education: Bigfork High School, University of Montana, University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

Occupation: Partner at Measure, Sampsel, Sullivan & O’Brien, P.C.

Background: I was raised in Bigfork where my mother and grandmother grew up. In fact, my great-great grandfather, Joe Ganger, was the first sheriff of Flathead County. I attended college in Missoula and law school in Philadelphia. After graduation I opened a solo law practice in Bigfork, and joined Measure Law Office in 2010 where I am currently a partner. In 2011 I was appointed as a substitute judge in Flathead County Justice Court and currently serve as a substitute there as well as Columbia Falls City Court, Kalispell Municipal Court and Whitefish Municipal Court.

Q: What makes you qualified for this position?

A: My experience over the past seven years as a substitute judge has been invaluable. In that time, I’ve presided over trials, written orders and legal opinions, and held hearings of nearly every different kind. Those experiences as a judge have prepared me to hit the ground running if I’m elected.

Q: What are your plans to hold more convicted felons accountable for their crimes, in terms of jail/prison time?

A: Justice Court only handles misdemeanor criminal cases, so I won’t have a chance to deal with sentencing felons. But, I think the same ideas apply. Effectively dealing with convicted criminals means having swift and certain penalties. Last year’s expansion of the county jail gave Justice Court the ability to do that, and I intend to take advantage of it.

Q: What are your thoughts about the county having a drug court?

A: A drug court is an important idea whose time has come. The opioid epidemic that is sweeping the Valley is a program that, at times, requires creative solutions. A drug court gives judges the ability to address not only the crime, but also the person underneath.

Q: What other issues do you want addressed?

A: Flathead County Justice Court is one of the busiest courts in the state. It is important that it continues operating quickly and smoothly because justice delayed is justice denied. My experience will enable me to hit the ground running and ensure that Justice Court remains a place people can depend on.

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