Two attorneys challenge Christopher for district judge position
Two candidates will challenge incumbent Deborah “Kim” Christopher for the position of district judge for Sanders and Lake counties. All candidates will be listed on June 5 primary ballots with the top two vote winners advancing to the Nov. 6 general election.
Deborah “Kim” Christopher
Incumbent Christopher has been the district judge for the last 18 years. She grew up in Polson and received her J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law in 1988. Prior to becoming district judge, Christopher was a Captain in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps in the United States Army and the Lake County District Attorney.
Christopher said that she is dedicated to making decisions based directly on the law, even if they are unpopular. She says that she believes that the people of Lake and Sanders counties appreciate her dedication to the law even when they are disappointed in the outcome of a case.
Christopher said that her experience is her greatest asset as a judge. Her experience includes family law and criminal defense, and she has tried cases in the federal court system and in tribal court.
According to Christopher, being district judge gives her “the privilege to serve people who matter, in a place I love.”
Candidate Ashley Morigeau has been a public defender in Polson since 2010. She grew up in West Virginia and moved to Montana in 2007 to attend the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana. She is married to Josh Morigeau and her parents-in-law are Craig and Kris Morigeau of Polson.
Morigeau said that as a public defender she takes into account all of the ways that prosecution can impact her clients’ lives. She said that she would use this empathy-informed perspective if elected as district judge.
Morigeau said that she feels incumbent Judge Christopher has made “little, if any,” progress to improve methods for dealing with addiction or mental health related cases. Morigeau said that if elected she will focus on developing new methods for the court to address such cases, including expanding the district’s drug treatment court.
“I am equipped to meet the challenges of our changing society while holding fast to the values that make this jurisdiction so wonderful,” she said.
Lake County Deputy County Attorney Ben Anciaux is also running for district judge. Anciaux is a 1971 graduate of Bigfork High School and received his law degree from the University of Montana in 1981. Before becoming deputy county attorney in Lake County, he worked as deputy county attorney in Sidney, Montana. Anciaux has also had a private practice and worked as a public defender.
He said that his experience with all aspects of law prepare him to “hit the ground running” as judge if elected.
Anciaux said that drug use would continue to be a significant factor in the criminal cases that the district judge tries during the next term. He said that his experience as deputy county attorney has prepared him to consider all factors in a case in order to decide whether drug offenders should be given community probation, treatment, or other “methods of behavior modification.”
“I work to recognize and remove my biases and prejudices so the decision I reach is objective and based on law and fact,” Anciaux said of his approach to law.