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Five candidates are running for Yellowstone County District Court judge in Department 7. That list will be narrowed down to two after the primary election on June 5.

The successful candidates will take office Jan. 2, 2019.

Here are candidate Alexander Roth's responses to questions from The Billings Gazette:

Candidate and hometown

Alexander Roth. Billings. 37 years old.

Current job

Owner of Roth Law Office. Practices primarily criminal defense, with a small but growing portion of his work in civil litigation.

Career bio 

Roth graduated from the University of Miami law school in 2013. Prior to that, he served three years active duty in the Marines, including a tour in Iraq. He served three years as a part-time reserve deputy with the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office, and he co-founded Stillwater Tactical, where he continues to teach shooting classes to civilians and law enforcement. His legal career is as follows:

  • Five years at Roth Law Office. Primarily represents criminal defendants. Took up civil litigation starting in 2016, including workplace retaliation, discrimination and bullying cases. Roughly 25 percent of Roth’s practices is in Billings, with the bulk in surrounding counties, mostly Eastern Montana.

Proudest career moment

In Roth’s first jury trial, he secured an acquittal for his client, who he said was unfairly charged with a DUI. The woman was drinking inside her car, parked outside of her apartment. Charges state that the woman was in physical control of her vehicle, even though she was not driving it, and was on public roadways, putting her in violation of DUI laws. Roth said at trial, prosecutors argued that because the woman lived in low-income, government-funded housing, public actors like police had more ability to intervene than they would at a private apartment building. “One of my first questions asking the jury was: Do rich people and poor people have different rights?” The case was Billings v. Tillie Bearcloud.

Q&A

What do you hope to change or improve in 13th Judicial District?

If elected, Roth would work to foster closer relationships between the district court and Rimrock, the area’s largest addiction treatment provider, and with sober living homes. Roth would encourage those defendants struggling with chemical addictions who lack “a healthy support network” locally to find a placement in one of the city’s sober living homes. Roth said he would do this not as a requirement at sentencing but as a “conditional statement in sentencing,” and by working more closely with probation and parole officers to encourage the sober living placements.

Position on the Montana County Attorneys Association's proposed change to the mandatory minimum for sexual offenses against children? 

Roth said the question was irrelevant because a good judge will sentence people who commit sex offenses against children to at least 25 years, and up to life in prison, regardless of the current mandatory minimum. A “bad” judge who hands down inappropriate sentences for such crimes, Roth said, will be voted out of office. “Every case has different facts, and at lump sum to say this is the mandatory minimum, I think that’s taking faith away from the judiciary,” Roth said. 

Position on MCAA’s proposed change to sentencing range for repeat DUI offenders? 

“I support a reform of DUI laws allowing larger sentences and even civil repercussions for repeat DUI offenders," Roth said. "Because I work in felony courts I am intimately familiar with the problems with DUI sentencing, and repeat felony offenders are a danger to the community.”

Roth also said that he "would be OK" with a law banning someone from driving at all, even sober, after they’d received 13 DUIs. If that person were caught driving, Roth proposes, they would have to forfeit their car to the state and would go to prison for five years.

Local affiliations

Roth is active with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he volunteered as a mentor for a participant in the 13th Judicial District’s CAMO treatment court for veterans who are criminal defendants, and he attends Mt. Olive Lutheran Church.

Endorsements

Endorsed by former Justice of the Peace Pedro Hernandez.

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.