District Court candidates: Souza offers skills of leader, prosecutor

2014-05-08T00:00:00Z District Court candidates: Souza offers skills of leader, prosecutorBy ROD SOUZA The Billings Gazette
May 08, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Yellowstone County is the busiest judicial district in Montana with a demanding criminal workload. Your next district judge must have the right experience, work ethic, and temperament to meet these challenges head-on. I grew up in Billings and understand this community. As a prosecutor and chief deputy county attorney over the last 15 years, I have served the people of Yellowstone County, stood up for victims, and gained the critical experience necessary to serve you as judge.

A judge must have real courtroom experience. I have prosecuted some of Montana’s most complex criminal cases, including the Covington triple homicide case and the Griego serial rape case. Over my career, I have tried over 30 jury trials and hundreds of bench trials. That experience has prepared me to properly oversee a courtroom while making sound decisions. A judge must also write well and write efficiently. I have honed my writing to produce consistent, well-reasoned work in an expedited manner.

A judge must have a strong work ethic. I have thrived under a heavy workload in Montana’s busiest law office and the pressures attached to high-profile cases. In 2008, I was honored as Montana’s Outstanding Prosecutor of the Year.

A judge must have extensive criminal law experience. The increasing number of criminal cases has profound impacts on victims, our community, and the offenders, while taking up a significant portion of a judge’s caseload. An experienced prosecutor is uniquely qualified for judge because a prosecutor makes quasi-judicial decisions every day. While I have filed and prosecuted many cases over the years, I have also declined prosecution on numerous cases. Those decisions are difficult, especially for victims who truly suffered. However, a prosecutor, much like a judge, has the power to affect a person’s liberty, and I have never taken that responsibility lightly.

Finally, a district court judge must have a temperament that ensures effective administration while treating parties with respect. I have served as the chief deputy county attorney in an office with 47 employees. I have been privileged to serve as chairman of the Billings Catholic Schools Board. These positions of administration and service require diligence, professionalism, and a genuine respect for others. I will take that same temperament to the bench and treat everyone with respect regardless of the case outcome.

I welcome the challenges of District Court judge in Yellowstone County, and I sincerely appreciate your vote.

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