By Ron VandenBoom
Former Havre City Court Clerk Joan Daulton made her first appearance in 12th Judicial Court Tuesday to enter a plea of guilty or innocent to charges she stole more than $10,000 from Havre's City Court and tampered with public records.
Daulton appeared without an attorney.
Special Master Kathleen Richardson presided at yesterday's hearing, and asked Daulton if she had an attorney.
Daulton told the court she was told she did not qualify for a public defender and that she could not afford private counsel.
Richardson decided not to hear Daulton's plea and ordered the hearing postponed until 2 p.m., Feb. 5, at which time Judge John Warner will determine whether Daulton will be allowed a public defender.
Daulton is alleged to have taken $10,679 from Havre's City Court between December 1997 and Aug. 28, 2000, when she was discharged from her position as city court clerk.
City Judge Joyce Perszyk discovered the missing funds while doing what has been described as a "routine inspection" of court receipts during a time when Daulton was on vacation.
An investigation headed by Havre Police Capt. Mike Barthel and Agent Kenneth G. Thompson of the Montana Department of Justice, confirmed the missing funds after an audit conducted by Gordon Thompson of Hamilton Consulting Group confirmed the funds were missing. A search of Daulton's east Havre Home on Aug. 23, 2000, also turned up receipts and time pay cards belonging to the court.