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Law

Dear citizens of Lake and Sanders counties and the Flathead Reservation:

Stewardship. It’s an old-fashioned word but at this holiday season and beyond, it still rings true with the obligations and opportunities we have to be sure that what we were given by those who passed before us is there in a usable way for those who come after us. It was made all the more real by the giants of the past generation, many of whom have passed recently.

I have had the honor and privilege of serving you as district judge of the 20th Judicial District for Lake and Sanders counties for the last three terms and going on 18 years. As I seek your vote in my re-election this next year, I want to reaffirm the commitment I made to you in 2000; of stewardship for the responsibilities I’ve been given.

My prior elected office, as Lake County’s district attorney for two terms, six years before I assumed the bench, carried the same weight, responsibilities and opportunity for stewardship in the legal system we were given by those who came before us. The chance to help, to make a difference, to represent you, to respect the people before me by holding them accountable for their actions, and to the law our legislature determines. This has not always been easy but I cherish the trust that accompanied that responsibility.

Before I assumed elected office, I worked in civil practice in Polson with the French, Mercer, Grainey and O’Neill law firm, which I joined from Cascade County, where I was a deputy attorney. I had my chance to return to Montana from my service in the U. S. Army as an Airborne JAG (Judge Advocate General’s Corps) officer. Recently I was considered for the Montana’s federal U.S. district attorney position. During my law career, I have practiced in private practice and tried hundreds of cases as a district judge and as an attorney. Most importantly, I have had the privilege of serving you and my country for the bulk of my professional career.

I was mentored by Chief Justice Jean Turnage. I practiced before District Judge C.B. McNeil as an attorney until I assumed the bench, where I had the privilege of working with Judge McNeil for 13 years. I have handled cases as small as a traffic citation and a large as a capital homicide case where the defendant was convicted and sentenced to death. During this last term, I sat as the presiding judge on the civil case concerning the death of three people and others injured due to the failure of a car manufactured by Hyundai. In that case, the jury awarded damages in the amount of $8.1 million and a punitive verdict of $240 million, the fifth-largest verdict in the United States at that time. I have sat on the Montana Supreme Court when one of our current Supreme Court justices was unable.

I have had the privilege and honor to serve where I was raised here in Polson by my mother and father Dick and Keenie Christopher and work where both sets of my grandparents lived, in Great Falls where my dad’s folks lived, and currently in Sanders County where my mom was raised. Most importantly for me, I have had the chance to raise my sons in Montana.

Law has been a blessed career for me as it allowed me to serve the people with whom I was raised in a place I love. I ask for your continued support this next election year and look forward to using my experience and commitment to this land and people in continuing to serve you.

Deborah "Kim" Christopher is district judge for the 20th Judicial District.

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