City seeking applications for new judge position

The city is accepting applications for the second municipal court judge who will be appointed to fill the position until the November election.

Last year, voters approved a city charter amendment to add a second municipal court judge, and in December, commissioners adopted an ordinance establishing the two court structure.

Interest forms and resumes for the position are due to the city manager’s office by 5 p.m. Feb. 21 and commissioners will interview the top candidates individually at an open meeting in late February and anticipate making an appointment by the first week of March.

The term of the appointment expires Dec. 31.

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The appointed judge will have to run in the November election to keep the seat.

Filing for the municipal election opens April 20 and runs through June 19.

The winning candidate will serve an initial two year term and after that, the second judge will have a four year term beginning in 2025.

City Attorney David Dennis told commissioners during their Feb. 7 work session that he wanted to get the appointment process to avoid making an appointment after candidates have begun filing for the position.

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Sitting Municipal Court Judge Steve Bolstad said he wished they already had the second judge in place since they’re overloaded with cases.

Bolstad was appointed to fill a vacancy in 2014 and had to run in the next year’s municipal election.

For that vacancy, the city received six applications and commissioners selected four to be interviewed, unanimously selecting Bolstad for appointment to the position.

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Commissioner Joe McKenney said he worried about appointing someone before the election and giving them an advantage.

Bolstad said in his case, he didn’t think it had much impact as few in the community know much about municipal court and few file to run for the seat.

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Bolstad ran unopposed in 2019 and will be on the seat will be on the city ballot this year.

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following requirements under state law:

  • be admitted, and in good standing, to the practice of law in Montana for at least three years prior to the date of appointment;
  • be a resident of Cascade County one year preceding appointment, and be a resident and qualified elector in the City of Great Falls at the time of his or her appointment;
  • shall become certified to assume the functions of that office, as specified by state law.

The new municipal judge will be responsible for the administration of the new court department, maintaining a central dockets of the court’s cases and setting cases for jury trial, as well as oversee the court’s personnel and all related administrative issues.

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Municipal judge salaries are set by city resolution and that is set at $107,012.25 for a judge serving a first or partial term.

The judge is an elected official and receives a city benefits package.

For more information, contact the city manager’s office at 406-455-8450 or the city clerk at 406-455-8451.