District Court candidates: Speare learned much from judicial mentors

2014-05-08T00:00:00Z District Court candidates: Speare learned much from judicial mentorsBy WILLIAM SPEARE The Billings Gazette
May 08, 2014 12:00 am  • 

I am William J. "Bill" Speare, and I am running to be your next District Court judge. There are two parts to developing wisdom: experience and the sense to learn from experience. I am fortunate to have both.

I was born and raised in Billings. I graduated with honors from West High, Montana State University, and the University of Montana School of Law. My wife Lisa and I are blessed to call Billings home and to raise our children here.

I have had many mentors in my 20 years of practicing law. I learned from two Supreme Court justices when I worked as a law clerk at the Montana Supreme Court. I prosecuted cases under the supervision of District Court Judge Knisely before she took the bench. I worked on complex civil cases between private parties with one of the largest law firms in the state. Having a strong independent streak, I opened my own firm more than seven years ago. I have worked with, and helped, people from all walks of life.

There is no judicial aptitude test candidates take and the voting public can review. However, this election is unusual in that all but one of the candidates running to replace Judge Baugh also sought to replace Judge Watters through the appointment process. I am the only candidate actively seeking to replace Judge Baugh whom the Montana Judicial Nominating Commission (consisting of a sitting judge elected by his peers, two lawyers, and four non-lawyers) certified as qualified for appointment to a judicial position.

Our district court judges make decisions that directly affect people’s liberty, the custody of their children, and whether they face economic ruin. The position is too important to make an uninformed choice. Voters can visit the Montana Court website at http://courts.mt.gov/supreme/boards/jud_nomination/default.mcpx and review all but one candidate's writings and public comments made by people who know them.

My first mentor was my father — a proud Laurel Locomotive. He served as a district court judge for 15 years. I have been deeply involved in our community (serving charitable organizations, volunteering my time, and teaching Sunday school). However, when I review my dad’s career and realize how much of his professional life was devoted to public service, I am humbled. If you entrust me with the responsibility, I will be a firm, fair, and honest judge of whom the community can be proud.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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