When current Missoula Municipal Court candidate Mark McLaverty applied to become a city judge in 2011, he was asked if he had ever been found guilty of a crime, regulation or ordinance that carried a jail sentence. He answered, “No.”
“That wouldn’t be correct,” says Missoula Senior Deputy Attorney Gary Henricks, who prosecuted McLaverty for misdemeanor driving under the influence in 2003. McLaverty was found guilty and, as Hendricks says, the charge “carries with it a minimum 24-hour sentence.”
When reached by the Independent, McLaverty said that he sticks by his answer because he doesn’t remember serving any jail time as a result of the DUI. “I never spent time in a cell, or anything that I can recollect,” he says. “I stand by my answer.”
McLaverty first attempted to be appointed to the city court’s bench in 2011 in an effort to replace Donald Louden, who left before completing his term. That’s when McLaverty filled out a municipal judge application asking him to list any arrests or convictions, along with traffic citations, that carried a jail sentence. In June of this year, McLaverty again threw his hat in the ring to unseat Missoula Municipal Court Judge Kathleen Jenks in the upcoming November election.
According to court filings resulting from the January 27, 2003 DUI charge, law enforcement accused McLaverty of refusing to submit to a Breathalyzer test after he was stopped for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, failing to obey a traffic signal and turning without giving a proper signal. When Judge Louden rendered the guilty verdict, he ordered McLaverty pay a $395 fine and complete a substance abuse treatment program through the Western Montana Addiction Service’s Turning Point. Court records show McLaverty completed the program in August 2003.
On Feb. 7, 2003, McLaverty petitioned the Montana Department of Justice to get his driver license back. The license had been revoked for McLaverty’s alleged failure to submit to a Breathlyzer test. In the DOJ petition, McLaverty claimed that the license revocation was unlawful because, “Petitioner did not refuse to take a breath test or was physically or mentally incapable of refusing a breath test.”
Henricks explains that in some instances prosecutors will sign off on such an agreement, as Henricks did in this case, if a defendant agrees to plead guilty. “Ultimately it was resolved,” Henricks says.
On Feb. 10, 2003, a District Court judge ordered that McLaverty’s alleged refusal “be removed from petitioner’s driving record and that Mark McLaverty’s driving record be purged of any violations ... and further that his license will not be suspended for six (6) months ...”
McLaverty’s refusal—at the time considered a civil violation in Missoula—was purged from his record, but the criminal conviction remains.
When speaking with the Independent, McLaverty notes that he hasn’t been cited for any other driving infractions since 2003. “I learned my lesson,” he says.