Letters To The Editor

Dear Editor,

This election cycle, a native eastern Montanan is running for county attorney. Richland County’s current county attorney chose not to run for re-election, and whether she knew it or not at the time, hiring Layne Johnson as deputy county attorney was a wise move. My eastern Montana roots run deep, and it will always be home to me. Eastern Montana is also home to Layne Johnson. Layne was raised on a family wheat and cattle operation near Froid, MT. The lessons of drive, independence, and reliability that he learned growing up in that environment are evident in the way he practices law.

While most people view the county attorney’s duties as primarily centered on criminal prosecution, the county attorney is responsible to advise the county on many civil matters as well. Layne’s farm and ranch background, and his civil experience prior to joining the county attorney’s office, will serve him well as county attorney.

My experience with Layne is, however, exclusively working in the criminal justice system. Although my office is in Red Lodge, MT, my law practice has recently expanded to take me home to eastern Montana, including Richland County as it has become vital to my practice. In my time with Layne, we have squared off in direct opposition to one another and I have been impressed with Layne’s attention to detail, tenacity, and ability to quickly evaluate a criminal case. His approach to criminal prosecution is handled with fairness to the county and the defendant, professionalism, and consideration that justice be served. We don’t always agree, but his positions are routinely well grounded in the law and public safety concerns.

Layne has a keen sense of what justice looks like, while at the same time he is not soft on crime or those that commit offenses. Justice doesn’t always mean locking people up; justice means that every case requires a unique approach to resolution and offender accountability. Layne recognizes that incarceration is a viable option for convicted offenders, he also devotes unique attention to the particular facts to ensure that justice is accomplished, and that jail is the right solution.

Layne knows that to prevent people from committing future offenses, creative and novel approaches must be used to hold them accountable, to rehabilitate them, and to work toward their ultimate reform to keep our communities safe. Layne is willing to put in the additional effort to ensure that each case receives fair and just resolution.

Richland County can rest assured that if Layne Johnson is elected as County Attorney, he will work to ensure that the county is safe, offenders are held accountable, and the county has first class legal representation.

Please consider Layne Johnson for County Attorney in the upcoming primary election.


Steven L. Thuesen,

Attorney at Law

Red Lodge, MT

Dear Editor,

Justice Ingrid Gustafson is the right choice to remain on the Montana Supreme Court. She is a fair, impartial, and independent jurist, and she upholds the rule of law and the independence of the Montana Judiciary. She has tremendous experience as a judge and as an attorney, and she does not allow personal views or bias to interfere with her work as a Montana Supreme Court justice. Since being sworn in as a Montana Supreme Court justice on January 1, 2018, she has written dozens of Supreme Court decisions applying the Montana Constitution fairly, including one that upheld the conviction of a pipeline protester. Further, Justice Gustafson is well-known throughout the Montana legal community, and she worked tirelessly to combat drug abuse and increase drug treatment resources in Montana during her prior role as a district court judge in Billings. Because of this, she is close to the people of Montana and depends on local grassroots support across the entire state. Justice Gustafson is smart, kind, and a great role model because she takes her job seriously and the role of an impartial, independent judiciary seriously. Our Montana legal system would be much less fair and equal without Justice Gustafson.

-Dan Eakin

Dear Editor,

My name is Juli Pierce; I am an attorney in Billings. I am writing in support of Charity McLarty’s bid to become the next Richland County Attorney. I am writing as a former prosecutor as well as in my current capacity as a criminal defense attorney representing criminal defendants in the Sidney area. I have been practicing criminal law as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney in Montana for 18 years. During that time I have had the opportunity to work with and against many prosecutors in many offices around the state of Montana. Charity has always been an advocate for victims of crimes in Richland County and she puts the citizens of Richland County first. She does not shy away from hard work. She often works on the weekends and in the evenings to protect the citizens of Richland County. She is always prepared and professional. She has integrity and takes her ethical duties as a prosecutor seriously. I was a prosecutor in Billings for 13 years and for the last three years of my career, I served as the Chief Yellowstone County Deputy Attorney for the busiest county in Montana. I understand the needs of a County Attorney’s office, including not only criminal prosecution, but also civil defense and office management. Not only does Charity have significant criminal prosecution and trial experience, she has worked in the private sector as an attorney and has managed her own office. Charity possesses the skills and abilities that will enable her to continue to protect the citizens of Richland County as your County Attorney. Please vote for Charity McLarty for Richland County Attorney.

- Juli Pierce, Attorney, Billings


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