Judges do politics too.
The Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association held a judicial candidate forum at its monthly luncheon this week. For the first time, I got a peak at the judicial candidates running in Greene County. The following is the first of a brief look at the three contested races and a synopsis of what each candidate had to say.
Associate Division 21
Janette Bleau vs. Jason Brown
An assistant prosecutor in Christian County, Republican Janette Bleau is challenging incumbent Judge Jason Brown. In her five minute speech, Bleau talked about how her Christian parents raised her with "values to treat everyone fairly." She pledged to the lawyers in the room to be "accessible, and to be there if you need to talk to me." She also promised not to lecture lawyers. "You are professionals," she said. "I want to be fair and impartial."
Incumbent Judge Brown mostly focused on the challenges and issues he faces on the bench. Those include:
*Quicker Trial Dates - Brown said he understands how long it takes to get trials set in the domestic area and said he wanted to look at ways to speed up the wait.
*Jail Population - The numbers are not good. "We have 541 people in a jail with 500 beds," he said. "It's constantly an issue, a struggle." Judge Brown said judges should never have to think twice about whether they should put someone behind bars based on the amount of space available. "Should that ever enter our mind? Do we have space for them?," he asked.
*Public Defender Crisis - "They better get help this legislative session," Brown said, calling public defenders underpayed and overburdened. He said it has gotten to the point that it's tough to give the public defender office another case.
Brown closed by saying he believes his 18 years of experience equips him well to continue to serve on the bench in Division 22.