Municipal judge still enjoys work in ‘people’s court’ |

Municipal judge still enjoys work in ‘people’s court’

Ben Bulkeley

— As new and returning Craig City Council members and the mayor made their way to the dais, only one man stood in the way of a new term.

Municipal Court Judge Kevin Peck, 40, has sworn in several councilors and mayors during his more than eight years as the city’s judge.

On Tuesday night, Peck administered the oath to newly re-elected Mayor Don Jones and Councilors Gene Bilodeau, Terry Carwile, Byron Willems and Jennifer Riley.

“Basically, I do it every time there’s a change, whether it’s a member of the council or the mayor,” Peck said.

Peck said the oath, while awkward when read aloud, is an important part of local politics.

“It sets a tone for their responsibilities – to be the best they can for their community,” he said. “It sets a good tone for their term.”

And despite the number of times Peck has read the oath and had it repeated back to him, he still uses a cheat sheet.

“The wording is kind of strange, and we try to break it up so it’s easier to follow,” he said laughing.

Peck, who lives in Craig with his wife, Amy, and 5-year-old son, Ryan, followed his father, Rod, into a legal career.

“My father was an attorney here for a long time,” Peck said. “I went to college and decided to pursue a career in the legal field and worked with his office for four years after law school.”

During that time, Peck applied to be the municipal judge and eventually received the position.

“I decided to leave the private practice, and now I run Northwest Title,” Peck said. “I kept my attorney’s license and stayed on as the municipal judge for the last eight or nine years.

“I just like trying to help people, and I like the lifestyle we enjoy in Craig.”

Peck, Northwest Title Co. president, graduated from Moffat County High School in 1987 and Dartmouth in 1991.

When Peck came back to Craig in 1996, he focused on transactional work and served as a court-appointed lawyer.

“Because I was the new guy in town, I was called in on a lot of criminal matters,” Peck said.

Being involved with criminal cases would help Peck later when he became a judge.

“Law school doesn’t teach you how to be lawyer – it teaches you the books and academic part,” he said. “Dealing with issues and client relations – court appointments do help in that learning process. It was a good experience for me.”

Being a judge suits him better, Peck said.

“I think I like being a judge more,” he said. “I enjoy it because you can put matters to bed when the day is done. In private practice, some issues would hang on endlessly, but being a judge, the matters resolve quickly, and everyone can go on their way.”

Every Wednesday morning Peck is in the municipal court hearing cases ranging from traffic violations to misdemeanors.

“Municipal court is like people’s court – there’s nothing really major, it’s usually just misdemeanors,” Peck said. “It’s usually pretty small issues, but they’re important to the people there. It’s important to let them have their day in court.”

The mediation aspect of being a judge is what appeals to Peck.

“My favorite part is facilitating communication between the city and parties and working to a resolution that’s acceptable,” Peck said. “At the same time, it gives people a venue to contest charges fairly.”

And Peck, who hears between 15 and 30 cases a week, still finds his work enjoyable.

“It’s interesting,” Peck said. “I enjoy it. I get to make an impact, especially with kids or juveniles in our courtroom.”

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