Thomas Julian faces two challengers in race for St. Robert Municipal Judge
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (April 5, 2010) — Most positions open for election in Tuesday’s St. Robert city elections have only one candidate running; exceptions are Ward I of the St. Robert City Council, where incumbent Alderman Ralph Cook faces candidate Charles V. Slider Jr., and the Waynesville R-VI School Board, where there are two positions open and four candidates running, incumbent Lori A. Laughlin and challengers Nathan A. Purdome, Marcus L. Davis, and Dorsey L. Newcomb.
Ward I Alderman Ed Spotts, Ward III Alderman Todd Williams and Ward IV Alderman William Urena are running unopposed.
However, St. Robert voters also have a less-publicized race between incumbent Municipal Judge Thomas M. Julian Sr., and two challengers, Gerald R. Marker and Kenneth E. Hawley.
Julian is the city’s former police chief; Marker is a retired Army CID agent who lives near St. Robert. Hawley is a Rolla resident.
According to St. Robert City Clerk Debbie Adkins, state law allows people to run for municipal judge even if they don’t live inside the city limits.
“You have to live in the 25th Judicial Circuit, you don’t have to live in the city,” Adkins said.
The circuit contains four counties, not only Pulaski but also Phelps, Texas and Maries counties.
Efforts to reach Marker and Hawley were not successful, but Julian said he hopes St. Robert voters will return him to the position he’s held for many years as municipal judge.
Julian, now 68, originally came to St. Robert when assigned to Fort Leonard Wood by the Army during the Vietnam War. He retired seven years ago and was the city’s police chief for 22 years of his 23 years on the police department; he’s now been the municipal judge for eight years.
“I enjoy it and I was asked to run several times. I filed and won it and I think the first time I had six opponents,” Julian said. “I handle all municipal violations that are filed by the police department. I’ve also been appointed several times to sit in on other cases in other towns in places like Rolla where the municipal judge has a conflict.”
That happens most commonly in Rolla Municipal Court, Julian said, but he’s also been appointed to help out in other cities.
Municipal judges in smaller cities don’t have to be lawyers, and Julian said he knows some people look at his background as a former police chief and wonder whether he’ll be fair to their case. It’s important to him to set the record straight right at the beginning of a trial, Julian said, and make clear that he’s on the side of justice, not the side of the police or the defendant.
“I think for me, when I hold court I open up with a statement that I always tell people you can plead guilty, not guilty or guilty with an explanation,” Julian said. “I think all judges should be required to ask them that because they may have a different story than the office making an arrest and I want to be fair about it.”
Julian has lived in St. Robert for many years and remembers when it was a far smaller community. As the community continues to expand, he said the police and court systems have also expanded and improved, and that includes the St. Robert Municipal Court.
“Eventually my courtroom will be completely done where we can hold jury trials for the higher courts. They’ve used my courtroom already for one murder trial and they did that based on the better security. We’ve got a place at the front entrance we can check to make sure people don’t have guns, knives or that kind of thing, and we work well with the police department,” Julian said. “The way they’ve got it planned out, they can hold the people we’ve got coming in. If we have to use it even for a murder trial we’ve got space for the municipal court to go on at the same time as the other trial is going on.”
Julian said he’s not afraid of having two opponents in this week’s election, but said voters hope they’ll remember his experience to vote him back into office.
“I know both of them; I knew Jerry Marker when he was in the military,” Julian said. “He worked with the drug suppression team. He did a lot of good for the community and for the post. The other man is from Rolla and I just can’t say much about him.”
“I hope it goes on my side, but it’s up to the voters,” Julian said.