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The Lake News Online
  • Meet the candidates for Miller County Associate Circuit Court Judge

  • When Miller County voters head to the polls on August 5, they will select an Associate Circuit Court Judge. Republicans Gerard “Jay” Harms, Jr. and Jon Kaltenbronn are vying for the position.
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  • When Miller County voters head to the polls on August 5, they will select an Associate Circuit Court Judge. Republicans Gerard “Jay” Harms, Jr. and Jon Kaltenbronn are vying for the position.
    Please provide some background on yourself including education, legal experience and family.
    Harms: On my 17th birthday, I signed up for service in the Missouri National Guard. Three days later, I was sworn in as a private. After five years of service in the Missouri National Guard, I enlisted into the U.S. Army. I served a total of ten years in uniform. During that time, I had the good fortune to find a school to continue my education while stationed in three foreign countries and in three different states and I earned my bachelor’s degree in business.
    After my military service, I began working to improve the operation of doctors’ offices and hospitals to provide services to communities in Missouri. My focus was developing doctors and clinics in rural and underserved areas. I earned a master’s degree in hospital administration and approached delivering healthcare like operating a business and not a welfare program.
    While working for a hospital in St. Louis, I found myself working closely with attorneys as a routine necessity. This began my interest in the law. Working in St. Louis also convinced me that I wanted to be back in central Missouri. At 35, I graduated from the University of Missouri with my law degree and moved back home to begin my practice.
    I balance work with my family. My wife Gabriella and our two wonderful children, Emily (3) and Titus (2) live on a few acres just outside of Eldon. We are members of Our Lady of the Lake Parish and frequent Sacred Heart Parish in Eldon. I have been a member of the Knights of Columbus since 1999 and I am a Fourth Degree Knight.
     
    Kaltenbronn: I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1981 and law degree from Washington University in 1984. My first job after passing the bar was working for the State of Missouri where I prosecuted lawsuits against people and providers who defrauded Missouri’s Medicaid and welfare programs. From there, I went to work for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office in their litigation division where I tried cases before juries in the U.S. District Court and was admitted to practice before the United States Circuit Court of Appeals.
    Since 1989, I have been engaged in the private practice of law, handling criminal, civil and probate matters in the Miller County Court. I have been the Judge for the City of Iberia for twenty-one years and the Judge for the City of Lake Ozark for six years. I have also been a prosecutor at the state and municipal levels.
    Page 2 of 5 - I have one son, Josh, who was educated in the local school system, has graduated from college and is now employed by Caterpillar. My wife, Sallianne, is a native mid-Missourian whose family has been farming in the High Point area for several generations. I have been a resident of Miller County for twenty-three years.
     
     
    What is the single biggest challenge facing Miller County judicial process and what do you intend to do about it?
    Harms: The single biggest issue facing the judicial process is actually an issue for our county as a whole – how to stop the revolving door in the criminal justice system.
    I decided to run for Associate Circuit Judge after one of my family law cases. During my representation of an ex-husband, the ex-wife was arrested several times and put on probation for each separate offense. The common practice of just putting people on probation does little to deter criminal behavior. There are more constructive ways to sentence people, including sentencing offenders to perform community service. I also intend to review each case to ensure justice is served and not simply accept deals made by the prosecutor and defense attorneys.
    I would also like to start a drug court for misdemeanor offenses. Drug courts have been proven to reduce repeat drug offenses. Traditionally, drug courts are a circuit wide program of education and rehabilitation for drug offenders. I have researched and identified a drug court program for first-time misdemeanor drug cases. As Associate Circuit Judge, I will preside over misdemeanor drug cases and dedicate my time to the program. The program I propose would be paid for by the offender.
    If the offender completes the program, they will not have a criminal record for their first offense. If they fail to complete the program or they come back on another drug charge, they will be sentenced for the crime under the regular penal system. I will give the offender a chance to change their behavior, but they will have to work for it and take responsibility for their actions. Breaking the cycle at the misdemeanor level should also reduce the number of felony drug offenses in our county.
     
    Kaltenbronn: The biggest challenge facing the Miller County judicial process is quite simply the huge volume of cases being presented to the court. Miller County has one Associate Circuit Judge to handle all criminal, family law and probate matters for the county as well as a substantial amount of other civil litigation. Due to its proximity to the Lake of the Ozarks and other factors, Miller County has a caseload volume which is far in excess of what would be expected in other counties of similar populations. The only way to contend with that caseload without increasing spending is to increase the efficiency of the court through automation and effective use of courtroom time. Available courtroom time may be increased by the use of alternative dispute resolution such as ordering mediation in civil cases. I intend to review every aspect of court operations to increase efficiency.
    Page 3 of 5 - Electronic filing of documents should reduce time spent by myself and Court personnel in handling, locating and filing documents. Every effort will be made to shorten the time used to deal with non court-related matters so that I can concentrate on serving the needs of people with matters pending before the court.
     
     
    What are the three most frequent types of cases that come before associate judges in Miller County?
    Harms: The three most frequent types of cases that come before Associate Circuit Judges in Miller County are criminal cases, family law cases, and civil actions. As Associate Circuit Judge for Miller County, I will preside over a wide variety of cases. All criminal misdemeanors and infractions come before the Associate Circuit Judge. In felony criminal cases, I will conduct a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to find that a felony has been committed and that the defendant is the person who committed the crime.
    All family law matters, including divorces, annulments, child custody and support, paternity, and name changes come before the Associate Circuit Judge. The Associate Circuit Judge presides over all civil actions (suits for money) where the amount claimed does not exceed twenty-five thousand dollars. This includes the small claims court. As Associate Circuit Judge, I will preside over all probate matters such as decedents’ estates, guardianships, and conservatorships.
     
    Kaltenbronn: Criminal, Family Law and Civil Litigation are the most frequent types of cases that come before the Associate Judge of Miller County.
     
    What sets you apart from the other candidate? In other words, why should voters cast their ballot for you?
    Harms: What sets me apart from my opponent is my belief that judges and attorneys must continue to learn and apply the law and my commitment to serving as your Associate Circuit Judge.
    Neither my opponent nor I can say they have the same experience as a current Associate Circuit Judge. However, litigating cases in court gives me a solid foundation upon which to build. I routinely litigate cases before courts in the same areas of law that I will preside over as Associate Circuit Judge. Litigating cases requires knowledge of the law, knowledge of court rules, and the ability to apply the law to the facts at hand. As an attorney, I try to see the case through the eyes of a judge in order to best serve my clients.
    While I bring that knowledge to the court, I also realize that the law does not stand still. I continue to review the law, even if it is an area that I believe I know the law. An example of this is a case I had last week. The judge and the opposing counsel have at least 70 years of combined legal experience. A rule changed in 2012 that determined the outcome of the case – an outcome the judge and opposing counsel did not expect. This is an important lesson of why practicing law for 30 years does not automatically make you a better lawyer or judge. Judges must have a commitment to continuously learning the law.
    Page 4 of 5 - Voters should cast their ballots for me, because I am committed to using my knowledge of the law, knowledge of court rules, and the ability to apply the law as it changes to serve our community and not approach my responsibility as just a natural progression in my career.
     
    Kaltenbronn: I have thirty years of experience practicing law. In that time, I have served as a prosecutor, a defense attorney and have represented both Plaintiffs and Defendants in civil actions. Most importantly, I have served as a Municipal Judge for over twenty years and gained invaluable experience in administering a Court efficiently and with high regard for the rights of the individuals appearing before me. My experience as a judge will allow me to immediately assume the administration of the Court without spending a great deal of time learning the position. For that reason, I believe that I am the most qualified candidate for Miller County Associate Circuit Judge.
     
     
    Please provide any other information that you’d like to share.
    Harms: We have all seen the news reports of judges ruling on cases to advance their personal agenda on all of society. Judges are supposed to hear cases and interpret and apply laws to a specific set of facts to make a ruling in that case. While Associate Circuit Judges do not have the final word on gun control, abortion, and civil rights cases, they often do have the final say on cases that matter greatly to the parties. What matters to you is the application of the law to the cases before the court.
    Very few people who walk into court want to be there. Their attitude reflects this and disrespect of the Court runs wild. Judges can be included in that statement. As Associate Circuit Judge, I will demand respect of the court. I will also give respect to everyone who appears before the Court. My purpose as Associate Circuit Judge is not to make everyone happy. It is to apply the law to the cases brought before me. I dedicate myself to following the law and applying it to the cases fairly.
    I have served our country, our state, and our community. Outside of my practice, I believe it is important to aid others. I take special pride in viewing my practice as a service our community. I have represented clients to give almost 80 children in foster care permanent homes. In 2012, I was honored with the Pro Bono Award by the Missouri Bar for serving indigent clients. My commitment to service will be evident as I serve our county as your next Associate Circuit Judge.
    On August 5th, I ask you to vote Harms for Judge.
    Page 5 of 5 -  
    Kaltenbronn: To learn more, go to www.JonKaltenbronn.com
     
     
     

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