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Poorman named magistrate judge

by KAYE THORNBRUGH
Hagadone News Network | June 11, 2024 1:20 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Tristan Poorman is the newest magistrate judge for the First Judicial District, filling the vacancy created by Judge Ross Pittman’s appointment to the Kootenai County District Court bench.

The Magistrate Commission of the First Judicial District chose Poorman from among four candidates, who were all interviewed by commissioners on Monday. Poorman is currently a deputy prosecutor for Kootenai County.

Magistrate judges have jurisdiction to hear infractions and misdemeanors, as well as felony preliminary hearings and civil matters such as divorces, conservatorships, adoptions, termination of parental rights cases and civil cases where the amount of money in dispute is less than $10,000.

The other candidates were Post Falls prosecuting attorney Eileen McGovern, Shoshone County prosecuting attorney Ben Allen and Kenton Beckstead, Nez Perce Tribe Law and Order executive officer.

After a childhood spent moving around with his family,  nowhere felt quite like home until he came to Kootenai County to be closer to his wife’s family, Poorman said. He said he plans to remain here for life.

“Kootenai County is my home,” he said.

Poorman said he doesn’t have higher aspirations beyond becoming a magistrate judge. He said he sees taking the bench as another way to serve the community.

“This is the ultimate goal,” he said. “I view it as a culmination of my career as opposed to a stepping stone. This would hopefully be the last job I have to apply for.”

Poorman described himself as patient and detail-oriented, both qualities he said are important for a judge.

While jail sentences are appropriate in some criminal cases, Poorman said there are times when the prospect of jail doesn’t have a significant impact on an offender. In some of those cases, he said, programs like Kootenai County’s mental health and drug courts are an important alternative.

“For a lot of people who go in and out of the system, simply throwing them back in jail is a break,” he said. “There are better ways to try and reinforce positive behavior and reduce criminal thinking than sitting in jail.”

McGovern said she’s witnessed firsthand the value of treatment courts as an alternative to jail.

“I have a very high opinion of treatment courts,” she said. “They provide a model that is exceptional.”

Allen said he’s wanted to be a judge for almost as long as he’d wanted to be an attorney. Whether as a prosecutor, an attorney in private practice or as a judge in the future, he said he emphasizes community service in his work.