Senate Bill 140 sponsored by State Senator Keith Regier which changes the method by which judges are appointed, was passed by the Montana Legislature and signed into law this week by Governor Greg Gianforte.

Regier described the purpose of the bill.

“What we've had in the past is a judicial nomination committee,” said Regier. “If there is a district judgeship where the judge retires or resigns, the judicial review committee then would come up and pick three to five people and give those names to the governor to pick from to fill that position. Senate Bill 140 did away with this nomination committee and went to a straight application to the governor, and then the governor would come up with a system to pick the judges to fill those vacancies.”

Regier said he believes the number of applications for open judgeships will rise due to this bill.

“We're going to get a lot more people applying, so the pool will be a lot bigger,” he said. “I think it'll be better for filling positions. I did have numerous lawyers tell me, ‘you know, I can't get on that nomination committee and let alone appointed when there's a vacancy coming up’.”

Opponents say the bill places too much power in the hands of the governor to appoint judges.

The controversial bill was signed into law on Tuesday by Governor Greg Gianforte.


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