Judge candidate omits arrest



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."

McLaverty says 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.

McLaverty first attempted to be appointed to the city court's bench in 2011. 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 Jan. 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. He was found guilty and ordered to pay a $395 fine and complete a substance abuse treatment program. Court records show McLaverty completed such a program in August 2003.

On Feb. 7, 2003, McLaverty petitioned the Montana Department of Justice to reinstate his driver's license. The license had been revoked for McLaverty's alleged failure to submit to a Breathlyzer test. In the petition, McLaverty claimed that the 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 reinstated McLaverty's license.

McLaverty notes that he hasn't been cited for any other alcohol-related infractions since 2003. "I learned my lesson," he says.

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