Big Sky Roundup

Gianforte solicits applications for two judicial vacancies

By: - September 14, 2021 6:34 pm

Gov. Greg Gianforte, right is sworn in on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 in the Governor’s Reception Room of the Montana State Capitol. (Photo by Thom Bridge of the Helena Independent Record)

Gov. Greg Gianforte said he is accepting applications for judicial vacancies in Yellowstone and Gallatin counties.

First reported by the Billing’s Gazette, Yellowstone County District Court Judge Gregory Todd, the county’s longest sitting judge, will retire on Dec. 31, 2021. The other vacancy was created by the state legislature at the proposal of Gianforte to help relieve caseloads in Gallatin County.

The judges chosen will be the second and third judges selected by a new nominating process where applicants apply directly to the governor and are interviewed by a council of 10 people, all chosen by the governor. The governor has the final say of who is appointed.

Previously candidates were interviewed by the Judicial Nominating Commission, which was compromised of four lay people appointed by the governor, a district court judge, and two lawyers appointed by the state supreme court. The commission would vet candidates and present acceptable names to the governor for consideration.

The first judge selected under the new process was David Grubich, who filled a vacancy in Cascade County after the historic decision by the Montana Senate to not confirm former Gov. Steve Bullock’s appointment.

Applicants must submit their application to nominatejudges.mt.gov by October 13. The public can submit comments online starting October 14 and ending Nov. 13.

The Senate will take up confirmation of appointments, as it has in the past.

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