Montana Governor Announces Advisory Council

Gov. Gianforte Announces Advisory Council for 20th Judicial District Vacancy

HELENA, MT (STL.News) Governor Greg Gianforte announced an advisory council to assist in reviewing qualified candidates to fill the district court judge vacancy in the 20th Judicial District (Lake and Sanders Counties).

“Bringing decades of experience working in their communities, the members of 20th Judicial District Advisory Council will support me in identifying exceptional candidates to serve as their new district court judge,” Gov. Gianforte said.  “I’ve directed members of the advisory council to 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 20th Judicial District advisory council include:

  • Boone Cole, former chair of the Flathead Joint Board of Control
  • Dennis DeVries, former judge for the City of Polson
  • Becky Dupuis, co-owner of Polson Theatres
  • Casey Emerson, attorney at Mission Mountain Law
  • Susan Lake, secretary and treasurer of Lake Farms Inc.
  • Ann Marie McNeel, attorney and director of Lake County CASA
  • John Mercer, attorney at Turnage, Mercer, & Wall, PLLP
  • Ryan Rusche, attorney for the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT)
  • Don Strine, former Sanders County Justice of the Peace
  • Lori Thibodeau, probation and parole officer for the Montana Department of Corrections
  • Teresa Wall-McDonald, human resources director at Salish Kootenai Community College
  • Ben Woods, Lake County Undersheriff

Gov. Gianforte announced in March that he is accepting applications and nominations for the 20th judicial district vacancy of any lawyer in good standing who has the qualifications set forth by law for holding the position of district court judge.  The application form is available electronically at nominatejudges.mt.gov.  Applications must be submitted electronically as well as in hard copy by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 11, 2022.  Applications will be made available to the public.

Commencing Tuesday April 12 and continuing through Wednesday, May 11, 2022, the public will be given the opportunity to provide letters of support or other comments regarding the applicants to nominatejudges@mt.gov. Applicants must receive at least three letters of support to be considered for appointment by the governor.