Montana Governor Announces Advisory Councils for Vacancies

Gov. Gianforte Announces Advisory Councils for 13th, 18th Judicial District Vacancies

HELENA, MT (STL.News) Governor Greg Gianforte announced advisory councils to assist in reviewing qualified candidates to fill the district court judge vacancies in the 13th Judicial District (Yellowstone County) and 18th Judicial District (Gallatin County).

“Bringing decades of experience working in their communities, the members of 13th and 18th Judicial Districts Advisory Councils will support me in identifying exceptional candidates to serve as the district court judges in the 13th and 18th Judicial Districts,” Gov. Gianforte said.  “Under my direction, the advisory councils will identify well-qualified candidates who are committed to the fair, consistent, and objective application of the law and who will interpret laws, not make them from the bench.”

Members of the 13th Judicial District advisory council include:

  • Moyra Anthony, clinical director for community services at Youth Dynamics
  • Shane Coleman, attorney at Holland & Hart LLP
  • Russ Fagg, former district court judge, attorney
  • Terry Halpin, Yellowstone County Clerk of District Court and Jury Commissioner
  • Emily Jones, attorney at Jones Law Firm
  • Bill Kennedy, former Yellowstone County commissioner
  • Darrelyn Lefthand, elementary school teacher at Wyola School
  • Rod Ostermiller, former U.S. marshal
  • Mark Parker, attorney at Parker Heitz Cosgrove
  • Coralee Schmitz, chief operating officer at Rimrock
  • Mark Thomas, founder of Capstone Wealth Management
  • Katie Weston , probation and parole officer

Members of the 18th Judicial District advisory council include:

  • Joe Billion, owner of Billion Auto Group
  • EJ Clark, former Belgrade chief of police
  • Chris Gillette, attorney at Christopher J Gillette, PC
  • Holly Hauskins, foster parent in Gallatin County
  • Jane Mersen, attorney at Kastin, Kauffman, and Mersen, PC
  • Glenda Noyes, executive director of Gallatin County CASA
  • John Olson, probation and parole officer
  • Tom Peluso, board member of Western Montana Mental Health Centers
  • Nick Ross-Dick, student success program manager at MSU Native American Center
  • Nels Swandal, former district court judge
  • David Wagner, attorney at Crowley Fleck
  • Cindy Younkin, former attorney at Bozeman Natural Resources

Work is underway in both councils.

Gov. Gianforte announced in mid-October that he is seeking public comment on applicants to the vacancies in the 13th and 18th judicial districts.

Members of the public can provide letters of support or other comments regarding the applicants through Saturday, November 13, 2021 at 5 p.m.  Applicants must receive at least three letters of support to be considered for appointment by the governor.

The governor’s appointees, who will be named no later than December 13, 2021, are authorized to begin serving in January 2022.