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News & Press: State Bar News

2 district court judges have challengers on November ballot

Friday, March 9, 2018  
Posted by: Joe Menden
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At least two sitting state district court judges will face opposition in their re-election campaigns in November. 

Two attorneys have filed candidacies to challenge Lake County District Court Judge Deborah "Kim" Christopher of Polson. Ashley Morigeau an assistant public defender in Polson, filed her candidacy on February 27. Ben Anciaux a solo practitioner in Polson, filed on March 7.

Christopher was first elected in 2000 and will be seeking her fourth term.

Meanwhile, 17th Judicial District Judge Yvonne Laird of Chinook is being challenged by Peter Helland, a solo practitioner from Glasgow. Laird was appointed to her position in 2016.

There will be at least six contested races among the 37 state district court judge seats up for election in Montana in 2018.

Two of the seats have attracted especially high interest: A Butte seat that will open with the departure of the Honorable Bradley G. Newman, who announced early this year that he will not seek re-election; a newly created judge position in Billings.

As of Friday, five Butte attorneys had filed candidacies to replace Judge Newman, 59, who was first elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2012:

  • Brad Belke, solo practitioner
  • Tim Dick, solo pratitioner
  • Wayne Harper, solo practitioner
  • Cindy L. Walker, shareholder, Poore Roth & Robinson, P.C.
  • Robert J. Whelan, partner, Joseph & Whelan

Meanwhile, five attorneys are running for one of the two new Billings judge positions approved by the 2017 Legislature:

  • Colette B. Davies, a partner at Bishop, Heenan and Davies in Billings
  • Yvette K. Lafrentz of Towe, Ball, Mackey, Sommerfield and Turner in Billings
  • Thomas Pardy of the Billings City Attorney's Office
  • Alexander J. Roth of Roth Law Firm in Billings
  • Teague Westrope of the Billings City Attorney's Office

Two attorneys, Ashley J. Harada of Harada Law Firm and Juli Pierce of Moulton Bellingham have filed for the other new seat in Billings.

In the 22nd Judicial District, which encompasses Big Horn, Carbon and Stillwater Counties, two attorneys are vying to replace the Honorable Blair Jones, who is expected to retire at the end of his term. 

Matthew J. Wald, a private criminal defense attorney from Lodge Grass, and Raymond J. Kuntz, a Red Lodge attorney who handles criminal defense and civil trials, have filed for the race.

According to the Secretary of State's Office, the following candidates have filed to run in the district court races that are on ballots this year (asterisk indicates incumbent):

1st Judicial District (Lewis and Clark and Broadwater Counties)

Department 1

  • The Honorable Mike Menahan* of Helena

Department 2

  • The Honorable Michael F. McMahon* of Helena

2nd Judicial District (Silver Bow County)

Department 2

  • Attorney Brad Belke of Butte
  • Attorney Timothy Dick of Butte
  • Attorney Wayne Harper of Butte
  • Attorney Robert Whelan of Butte
  • Cindy J. Walker of Butte

3rd Judicial District (Deer Lodge, Granite and Powell Counties)

  • The Honorable Ray J. Dayton* of Anaconda

4th Judicial District (Missoula and Mineral Counties)

Department 1

  • The Honorable Leslie Halligan* of Missoula

Department 2

  • The Honorable Robert "Dusty" Deschamps* of Missoula

Department 3

  • The Honorable John W. Larson* of Missoula

5th Judicial District (Beaverhead, Jefferson and Madison Counties)

  • The Honorable Luke M. Berger* of Silver Star

6th Judicial District (Park and Sweet Grass Counties)

  • The Honorable Brenda Gilbert* of Clyde Park

7th Judicial District (Dawson, McCone, Prairie and Wibaux Counties)

Department 1
  • The Honorable Olivia Rieger* of Glendive

8th Judicial District (Cascade County)

Department 1
  • The Honorable Greg Pinski* of Great Falls
Department 2
  • The Honorable Elizabeth A. Best* of Great Falls
Department 3
  • The Honorable John A. Kutzman* of Great Falls
Department 4
  • The Honorable John W. Parker* of Great Falls

9th Judicial District (Glacier, Toole, Pondera and Teton Counties)

  • The Honorable Robert G. Olson* of Shelby

10th Judicial District (Fergus, Judith Basin and Petroleum Counties

  • The Honorable Jon A. Oldenburg* of Lewistown

11th Judicial District (Flathead County)

Department 1
  • The Honorable Amy Eddy* of Kalispell
Department 2
  • The Honorable Robert B. Allison* of Kalispell
Department 3
  • The Honorable Heidi J. Ulbricht* of Kalispell

13th Judicial District (Yellowstone County)

Department 1
  • The Honorable Jessica T. Fehr* of Billings
Department 2
  • The Honorable Donald L. Harris* of Billings
Department 3
  • The Honorable Michael G. Moses* of Billings
Department 7
  • Attorney Yvette K. Lafrentz of Billings
  • Attorney Thomas Pardy of Billings
  • Attorney Alexander J. Roth of Billings
  • Attorney Teague Westrope of Billings
Department 8
  • Attorney Ashley Harada of BIllings
  • Attorney Juli Pierce of Billings

14th Judicial District (Golden Valley, Meagher, Musselshell and Wheatland Counties)

  • The Honorable Randal I. Spaulding*

15th Judicial District (Daniels, Roosevelt and Sheridan Counties)

  • The Honorable David Cybulski* of Plentywood

16th Judicial District (Carter, Custer, Fallon, Garfield, Powder River, Rosebud and Treasure Counties)

Department 1
  • The Honorable Michael Hayworth* of Miles City
Department 2
  • The Honorable Nickolas C. Murnion* of Forsyth

17th Judicial District (Blaine, Phillips and Valley Counties)

  • The Honorable Yvonne Laird* of Chinook

18th Judicial District (Gallatin County)

  • The Honorable Holly Brown* of Bozeman
  • The Honorable Rienne McElyea* of Bozeman
Department 3
  • The Honorable John C. Brown* of Bozeman

20th Judicial District (Lake and Sanders Counties)

  • Attorney Ben Anciau of Polson
  • The Honorable Kim Christopher* of Polson
  • Attorney Ashley Morigeau of Polson

22nd Judicial District (Big Horn, Carbon and Stillwater Counties)

  • Raymond G. Kuntz of Red Lodge
  • Attorney Matthew J. Wald of Lodge Grass

This list will be updated periodically as candidates file.