Justice of the Peace – Accountability important for O’Malley and Tenny

The race for Madison County Justice of the Peace is between two people with long experience in the criminal justice system.

Incumbent MaryAnn O’Malley from Virginia City has been in her position for 16 years. Her challenger Chris Tenny from Sheridan has been in law enforcement for 10 years, five years as a sworn police officer. He is currently a Madison County Deputy Sheriff.

O’Malley and Tenny square off in one of four contested county races.

In other races, Madison County Clerk of District Court Bundy Bailey is facing a challenge from Karen Miller. Incumbent Madison County District 3 Commissioner Jim Hart is facing a challenge from Dave Germann.

In Madison County Commissioner District 2, current commissioner Marilyn Ross isn’t seeking re-election and four candidates are vying for her spot: Dan Happel, Ty Cobb, Ron Nye and Evan O. Gannon.

The election will take place Nov. 2.

O’Malley has always had a pull toward the criminal justice system and being Madison County Justice of the Peace has been rewarding.

Over the past 16 years, the biggest change she’s seen is the increased caseload that comes through justice court, O’Malley said.

“The county growing has really changed the dynamics of the court,” she said.

The Madison County Justice Court covers all of Madison County, which includes Big Sky. The civil caseload has increased along with the criminal.

Justice court hears initial appearances on felony charges, misdemeanors and fish and game violations. It also hears small claims cases and orders of protection. Madison County Justice of the Peace makes $45,039 a year.

“Our caseload has grown a lot,” O’Malley said. “It’s a lot bigger than it used to be.”

Some of the changes she’s made while on the bench have been to require all cases involving drunk driving to attend a victim impact program, she said. This makes an impact on offenders, showing them the impact their crimes can have on victims.

“I think it makes an impact on people,” O’Malley said.

She has also instituted the compliance supervision program, which involves a court compliance officer that will take on probation work for the court. This compliance officer works with local law enforcement officers to keep them up to speed on who is under restrictions.

“He provides a hot list to them so they know who can’t be in the bar and who’s required to be on random testing,” she said. “It helps provide public safety and holds people accountable. I think people know they have to comply with my conditions.”

She also has employed secure continuous remote alcohol monitoring systems, which is a bracelet system used to monitor people under court restrictions.

But Tenny thinks Madison County Justice Court could use some changes.

“As law enforcement I see changes that need to be made in the way justice court deals with offenders,” Tenny said. “Offenders are not being held accountable.”

He feels like too often law enforcement officers deal with the same offenders.

“Finding guilty people guilty is only part of the job,” Tenny said. “Holding people accountable means when they’re breaking their deal with the court and they’re breaking their deal with the community there has to be consequences.”

Tenny’s solution to this is pretty straightforward. He would rapidly escalate consequences for people who reoffend.

His background in law enforcement gives him a unique perspective to the problem.

“It effects how I would deal with people and my whole vision of what the role of a judge is,” Tenny said. “It’s all about managing criminal behavior – direct supervision of that problematic portion of the society that needs to be managed most closely.”

Training and education has been important to O’Malley, who is a graduate of the Montana Judicial Institute and has been twice to classes at the National Judicial College.

“I’ve demonstrated I’m fair and impartial. I’ve demonstrated that I hold people accountable for their actions,” she said. “I have the wisdom and judgment required to make fair decisions.”

2 Responses to Justice of the Peace – Accountability important for O’Malley and Tenny

  1. Bill Sikkenga says:

    The article (volume 138,issue 50) “Madison County Elections 2010: Justice of the Peace” leaves me asking, “Why doesn’t Madison County Justice of the peace MaryAnn O’Malley and the Madisonian call O’Mally by her real name, Mrs. Loren Tucker?” Is it to conceal the fact that she is married to the district judge?

    In the article O’Malley/Tucker observes her 16 years as Madison County Justice of the Peace: She states, the biggest change she’s seen is the increased caseload that comes through justice court.

    Really, the biggest? “Our caseload has grown a lot,” she said. “It’s a lot bigger than it used to be.” Really, who would of thought?

    Another observation made by O’Malley/Tucker is, “The county growing has really changed the dynamics of the court.” Really? How has the marriage to Loren Tucker changed the dynamics of the court?

    Justice court hears “initial appearances” on felony charges, misdemeanors and fish and game violations. It also hears small claims cases and orders of protection.

    After the “initial appearance” before O’Malley/Tucker does Judge Loren Tucker hear appeals on O’Malley cases? Or is it a given?

    O’Malley expects accolades regarding her stance on drunk driving. She requires all cases involving drunk driving to attend a victim impact program (this requirement is pretty much national and not O’Malley’s idea). She also has employed secure continuous remote alcohol monitoring systems, which is a bracelet system used to monitor people under court restrictions. (Again following other courts. Did anyone see Lohan’s ankle?)

    O’Malley reports she instituted the compliance supervision program where the compliance officer (appointed by O’Malley?) “provides a hot list of offenders” to law enforcement officers in Madison County so the officiers know “who can’t be in the bar and who’s required to be on random testing.”

    Are “black” lists even legal? Isn’t this a form of entrapment?

    O’Malley states, “I’ve demonstrated I’m fair and impartial. I’ve demonstrated that I hold people accountable for their actions” and “I have the wisdom and judgment required to make fair decisions.” Really?

  2. Brandi Lansing says:

    Mr. Sikkenga,
    As an “informed” citizen, which apparently you are not, I’ll let you in on a little secret…Judge O’Malley has never once “concealed” the fact that she is married to Judge Loren Tucker. And she never once claimed to invent the justice system. There is a difference in inventing and implementing after all. Any educated and informed individual is aware of that. Maybe you should have attended the forums, where she made herself clear about herself and her campaign. The citizens of Madison County are well aware, and in case you didn’t notice the election results, we don’t really pay attention to petty, uneducated remarks from an unknown, such as yourself. It is a relatively small community and the Tuckers, who are active citizens, are very well known for who they are and what they stand for. In and out of court. This is obviously more than I can say for yourself, Mr. SIKKENGA. Who are you? Jaded from the courts? or just bored? Are you even from Madison County? One thing is obvious though, you apparently like the tabloids, (insert Lohan reference here), in which case it is no surprise that you would attempt to manufacture your own by involving what was and has been a reputable paper such as the Madisonian. However, their judgement to allow such banter and ill-mannered critique into their publication makes me question the integrity. Especially since in their own policy “The Madisonian reserves the right to edit content for grammar, good taste and libel.” hmm…good taste? But I guess that is something the editor should be accountable for because from the petty nit picking to your obvious lack of knowledge, there was still nothing valuable in your contribution and it makes me wonder why you would seek out an attack of sorts on anyone, let alone Judge O’Malley, who has given a huge part of her life to serve the public. And sir, I guarantee you she has served it well. Again, do note the election results.

    Regarding your entrapment comment…do you even know what that means?

    Referencing your last remark…yes, she really does.

    Take care, Mr. Sikkenga. I hope you find the peace within yourself that you so desperately need.

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