Ries in the hunt for judgeship

Mary Ann Dwello Ries of Conrad announced on Thursday, the first day of filing for public office, that she officially signed the papers for the position of District Court for the Ninth Judicial District.

Ries, a native of Choteau, is currently serving as Pondera County Attorney, a position she has held since 2005.

Prior to that time she served as a deputy Cascade County attorney.

During her time in Cascade County, she was responsible for various civil matters for the county as well as carried a full criminal prosecution caseload.

Ries has extensive trial experience including successfully obtaining convictions in two homicide cases during her tenure in Cascade County.

She graduated from Choteau High School and went on to obtain a bachelors degree in education from Western Montana College-Dillon. She moved to Conrad in 1978 and has been involved in the agricultural community since 1979, first working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, than as a small farm operator with her husband Curtis.

Ries explains that with her youngest child about to graduate from high school she is looking for a new challenge.

She began her legal career in 1993 when she was first elected Pondera County Justice of the Peace and City Judge for both Conrad and Valier. Ries held those positions until she resigned in 1998 to enroll in and complete her law degree at the UofM-Missoula School of Law.

Ries tells the I-O, “I strongly believe in our legal system, it is the best model in the world.”

She goes on to add, “The basic foundation for that system is found in the Constitution of the United States and State of Montana.”

Ries recognizes the protections contained in those documents and is committed to protecting constitutional rights of all people.

She also believes that the judicial system must be accessible to all people and will ensure that those that chose to represent themselves are treated fairly and respectfully.

In criminal matters, Ries recognizes the rights of victims as well as those of criminals.

She believes that sentencing options must keep in mind those rights as well as the best interests of the community.

Ries also recognizes that alternative sentencing which attempts to create behavioral change, is also appropriate in some cases.

To that end, Ries is looking forward to continuing with programs established by Judge McKinnon during her term in office.

Ries has had the opportunity to participate with Judge McKinnon and other drug court team members, in a week-long training program necessary to implement and run drug court.

She noted that she is looking forward to meeting with the citizens of the Ninth judicial District during the campaign season.

The filing fee for the judge position is $1,120.