Bolstad withdraws from consideration for district court seat; interviews set for Oct. 9 with candidates for Pinski’s vacated seat

Steve Bolstad has withdrawn his application from consideration for the position of district court judge for the 8th Judicial District, which was vacated by Judge Greg Pinski, who resigned effective Oct. 2.

Bolstad was one of six applicants for the position and one of five that the Judicial Nomination Commission had selected to interview on Oct. 9.

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Bolstad told The Electric on Wednesday that he likes where he is now as the Municipal Court Judge for the City of Great Falls and that he wants to finalize the mental health court he and others have been working to build.

Bolstad said the effort to establish the court is going well though COVID-19 had slowed the process. He said they’re waiting on a grant application with the Great Falls Police Department and that he’s also still working on hiring the second, part-time judge that the City Commission funded last year.

“I am very happy with my decision and am happy to keep serving the City of Great Falls,” Bolstad told The Electric.

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Bolstad was reelected as municipal judge in 2019 and began his new term in January. He was appointed to the municipal judge position in 2014 after the previous judge retired.

He previously served in the Cascade County Attorney’s Office.

A number of people submitted letters of support for Bolstad’s appointment to the district court seat, including County Commissioners Jane Weber and Joe Briggs; several GFPD officers; the police and fire unions; a retired district court judge in Cascade County and a former district court judge from this county who is now on the Montana Supreme Court; County Attorney Josh Racki; Sheriff Jesse Slaughter; District Court Judge Elizabeth Best; several public defenders and more.

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The Judicial Nomination Commission met by conference call on Sept. 25 to review the applications.

The commission received six application for the position from: Steve Bolstad; Theresa Lynn Diekhans; David J. Grubich; Michele Reinhart Levine; Matthew Stuart Robertson; and Sunday Zoie Rossberg.

The commission agreed to interview five of the applicants but declined to interview Theresa Diekhans, according to the meeting minutes.

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The commission is moving forward with interviews as planned on Oct. 9, beginning at 9 a.m. via Zoom with the remaining four applicants.

Thirty-five minutes are reserved for each candidate and the commission is scheduled to deliberate after the last interview.

The public is able to watch the interviews via Zoom, but not give comment since the public comment period has closed.

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The commission was expected to forward the names of three to five nominees to Gov. Steve Bullock for appointment.

The person appointed by Bullock is subject to Senate confirmation during the 2021 legislative session and election in 2022 and the successful candidate would serve through the remainder of Pinski’s term, which expires in January 2025, according to the Montana Supreme Court.

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Judicial Nomination Commission members are District Judge John C. Brown of Bozeman; Janice Bishop of Missoula; Karl Englund of Missoula; Elizabeth Halverson of Billings; Hal Harper of Helena; Lane Larson of Billings; and Nancy Zadick of Great Falls.