Everyone with an outstanding warrant from Butte City Court is now listed on the county’s website for everyone else to see, and it’s already paying off as intended.
The county did a test run Friday, made a few changes and by Monday afternoon posted the list of more than 1,000 names on the City Court page of the county’s website at co.silverbow.mt.us along with instructions on what to do if you’re on it.
The direct link is http://mt-buttesilverbow2.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/15333/BSB-City-Court-Active-Warrants-08JUL2019 but it can also be accessed by clicking on “Departments” on the county home page then clicking “City Court.” The list link is at the bottom of the page.
City Court Judge Jerome McCarthy said people have already started calling his office, some saying they thought they had taken care of the warrants long ago.
“The bottom line is they were eager to get in and get these matters taken care of,” McCarthy said. “They are already responding that way. I think our clerks were ready to throw me out the third story window because of the volume of calls.”
The intent is not to shame people, he says, but to be transparent with public information and get people with outstanding warrants to address them. But they don’t need to call the court, as the web page notes, because “your appearance is mandatory.”
If you want to clear the warrant, it says, you must appear in Butte City Court between 8:15 a.m. and 9 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Those and other cases are then taken up those mornings starting at 9 a.m. City Court is located on the third floor of the courthouse at 155 W. Granite St. in Butte.
The web page also says “if you have reason to believe your name should not appear on the warrant list or any of the information contained is inaccurate, please e-mail the court and someone will respond back to you within 72 hours. The address is CityCourt@bsb.mt.gov
Butte’s City Court handles most offenses in the county when they are misdemeanors only, including crimes such as first-time partner or family member assault, drunken driving, simple assault, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, and minor thefts such as shoplifting.
Police typically arrest people with outstanding warrants, and some from City Court date back to 2005. But the vast majority are from 2017 and on.
The list is alphabetical and includes first and last name, middle name if there is one, and date of birth. It will be updated every Tuesday.
The warrants are for crimes committed within Butte-Silver Bow County regardless of home address, so there are lots of people on the list who live elsewhere in Montana or in other states.
At least two other municipal courts in Montana — in Great Falls and Helena — also post the names of those with outstanding warrants.
Butte-Silver Bow also posts a jail roster that is updated each morning. It is by far the most frequently visited site on the county’s web page.