Talk Business & Politics asked candidates in the five contested judicial races in Sebastian County for a 350-word essay on why they are the best person in their respective race.
Candidate essays from all five races will be posted this week.
Following are the essays from Judge Claire Borengasser and Michael Pierce, who are candidates in the Fort Smith District Court, Division III race. The essays are posted in alphabetical order.
• Claire Borengasser
I am running for reelection as District Court Judge because I have always enjoyed working in the courtroom setting. I have worked 99% of my career in Criminal Court as either a Deputy Prosecutor, Deputy Public Defender or City Prosecutor and now as District Court Judge. In each one of those positions I have worked to obtain justice.
I have an undergraduate and law degree from the University of Arkansas. I have practiced nine (9) years in Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, eight (8) years in the Public Defender’s Office, over a year as the City of Fort Smith’s Prosecuting Attorney until elected District Court Judge. I have been on the bench for eleven (11) years and these different positions held during my legal career have given me the experience and impartiality needed to render fair and just decisions. The most memorable cases were Felony Jury Trials involving child victims; because, making sure of a conviction was paramount in protecting not only them but any future victims. In one case, the defendant had gone to California and failed to appear on two (2) counts of Rape; I tried that defendant, who sat during the trial in a wheelchair, on the Felony Failure to Appear. He received a 30 year sentence and the two granddaughters were spared having to testify.
Important attributes for a judge are many. A judge should be impartial and open-minded; respectful and patient with all persons in and out of the courtroom; have courage in his or her decisions (not bending to political or social pressures) and use common sense. I feel I have demonstrated all these qualities in and out of the courtroom.
After the election, I would continue on the bench treating each person how I would want to be treated and each case with impartiality and understanding. Also, I would continue to be open-minded to any new treatment or alternative programs available. We have within the last two (2) years started a Restore Hope program in District Court with the goal to reduce repeat offenders.
• Michael Pierce
MICHAEL GEAN PIERCE has the EXPERIENCE needed to be the Fort Smith District Judge our community needs! He is a Fort Smith family man with his wife, Jenna Pierce and 3 children (Sawyer, Sally Beth, & Ty). Michael is actively involved in his church and the local community. He coaches many youth sports teams, is the Fort Smith Razorback Club President and is involved in Fort Smith’s running community.
Michael Gean Pierce has been practicing Law in Fort Smith, AR in numerous capacities over the past 12 years. He currently serves as a private attorney at his families law firm, Gean, Gean & Gean Attorney’s at Law, who have been serving Fort Smith’s legal needs for over 100 years.
Pierce served as a Sebastian County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney where he handled hundreds of Felony and Misdemeanor cases in both Circuit and District Court. During part of his service he was the Sebastian County Juvenile Prosecutor presiding over all of Sebastian County’s Juvenile Delinquent cases. (Felony, Misdemeanor, and Family in Need of Services Cases (FINS).
As a private attorney, Michael Gean Pierce, is licensed in both Arkansas and Oklahoma. In his private practice, he has handled cases at all seriousness levels including those that carry the potential to serve life in prison. Michael has handled countless Civil, Domestic Relation and Criminal Cases in multiple jurisdictions before numerous judges in both states. This experience in multiple states, numerous counties, and before a vast number of District and Circuit judges will allow him to use those experiences to the benefit of Fort Smith residents.
Michael Gean Pierce has successfully represented individuals in Civil and Criminal Jury trials, as well as Bench Trials, before countless judges in Arkansas and Oklahoma. His experience spans through both State and Federal level cases. These cases handled by Pierce relate to both civil and criminal matters. It is important to have multiple perspectives when being a judge that can only be obtained from both private and pubic service. His opponent does not have the experience from both sides of the public and private sector like Michael Gean Pierce!