Candidates will be asked a series of questions between now and the primary election.
Posted Friday, May 16, 2014
Question: Could you please describe your attitude/approach toward negotiating plea bargain versus trial litigation in criminal cases?
Darcy L. Pankratz
I prepare for the case as though it will go to trial. I consider the officer’s efforts and the victim’s position. I have an open door and open file policy, and am willing to engage in discussion with the defendant or their attorney. If the case is strong, I seek to enter into plea agreements containing all of the filed charges and my sentence recommendations. Because the officers do a great job, I am often able to do this. I believe that reducing or dismissing a charge is a compromise, and am reluctant to do so unless the evidence is weak, there are procedural issues or extenuating circumstances. If the facts do not support the charge, I cannot ethically continue to prosecute, and would either reduce or dismiss it.
The sentences I recommend punish, deter, and rehabilitate the defendants. Punishment includes incarceration, restitution for the victim, community service, and fines. The sentence should be serious enough to deter future crime. I recommend drug and alcohol assessments and therapy where warranted. I try to be creative and have the defendants participate in something that might help raise their self-esteem, which will encourage them to be more productive in our community.
Albert R. Batterman
Criminal prosecutions should provide punishment and rehabilitation for the offender and restitution for the victim. In felony cases these goals are monitored by the Department of Corrections, which by policy provides services and supervision in the community whenever possible. For many offenders the system does not provide for prison time.
Plea agreements allow offenders to accept responsibility for their acts without a trial, and plea negotiations are part of every case. Factors I consider include the nature of the charge, the offender’s sincerity, the circumstances of the offense, the quality of evidence and witnesses, the offender’s criminal history, and the victim’s wishes.
In my experience, justice delayed is often justice denied, and the certainty of a plea agreement is frequently better than the unknowns of a trial. Ultimately, the judge sentences the offender, and a plea agreement from me is only a recommendation.
A prosecutor represents the entire community, not only the victim, and it is my role to obtain justice, not vengeance. I will pursue a plea agreement if it meets the needs of the victim, the offender, and the criminal justice system. Otherwise, I will present my case at trial to determine an offender’s guilt or innocence.
Question: What are the top two things you would change in the Sheriff’s department if you are elected?
Randy R. Ketterling
If I am elected as Sheriff, I would first take the time to evaluate all operations within the department to determine which ones need improvement and which ones are working effectively. I would draw upon my years of experience in law enforcement and my training that I have received during my years as Chief of Police to make any necessary improvements in the areas that need it. I certainly would like to improve all relations with other law enforcement and State of Montana agencies. I believe that there needs to be a better way of providing the media and the residents of Fallon County access to public information concerning the County and its residents.
I believe, to make effective changes in a law enforcement department, you need a new administrator with different ideas and input from the current officers to create change for the better.
I would like to say that I am proud and excited to be part of the contributions that thus far has led to an effective and efficient Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Barkley. I believe that there is always room for improvement, no matter how big or how small. I believe that public and local agency relations (ie… news media/fire department/police department) could be strengthened through diligent communications. Communications can be the building block or the break down of any relationship internally or with outside sources. I pride myself with being an excellent inter-personal communicator.
I think with the ever changing times taking a look at some of the policies of the Sheriff’s Office could be advantageous to all. In a world of policy, procedure, and rules it’s good practice to stay up-to-date and assure that everyone is on the same page. This helps build confidence and direction for a common goal within the office. I believe that there is potential for other small changes once the office is filled. I believe that not only I, but the citizens, have a deep respect for the way Sheriff Barkley operated the Sheriff’s Office through his tenure.
Question: Could you please list and explain your top three priorities for Fallon County should you be elected into office?
Kevin J. Braun
My three (3) top priorities if elected as Fallon County Commissioner for Fallon County are:
1. The fiduciary welfare of the county – to ensure that the monies that Fallon County brings in will stay in this county for the facilities that we need as residents and tax paying citizens such as roads, housing, education, employment, senior well-being, hospital/clinic access, disaster assistance to name a few.
2. Communication with entities that are involved with the day to day business of Fallon County. Working with the department heads, City government, local law enforcement, oilfield companies, legislative groups, disaster and emergency personnel, local Chamber, hospital board, special interest groups. Being able to work with each and every concerned group and individual, along with having an open mind will assist with a successful communication relationship.
3. Legislative issues – I believe that a more active role needs to be taken in Helena with legislators. Keeping myself and the Helena legislators more informed with the issues that are affecting and could affect the welfare of Fallon County and establishing a more active relationship with legislators. On June 3, please make it your priority to get out and vote.
As County Commissioner my top three priorities are: 1. Life Safety, 2. Preservation of Property, and 3. Conservation of the Environment. The Commission will continue to enhance law enforcement, emergency response services, Fallon Medical Complex, retirement services, maintenance of county roads and bridges, dispute the proposed Powder River Training Area Expansion Plan and take any other actions necessary to save lives, protect property and preserve the environment. My second priority is accountability, maintaining a working relationship with the public, and keeping them informed. My third priority is financial accountability to the public.