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News & Press: State Bar News

Finalists named for First Judicial District judge seat

Tuesday, October 13, 2020  
Posted by: Joe Menden
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The Judicial Nomination Commission on Oct. 12 submitted three names to Gov. Steve Bullock for consideration for appointment to the judicial seat vacated by Judge James Reynolds in the First Judicial District. They are: 

  • Christopher David Abbott, Assistant Attorney General in the Montana Department of Justice’s Agency Legal Services Bureau. Prior to his current position, he was an attorney with the Office of the State Public Defender from 2007-2017, where he defended indigent persons accused of serious and complex felony matters and was one of Montana’s few public defenders qualified to litigate capital cases. A 2006 graduate of the University of Washington School of Law, he clerked for the Honorable James R. Browning in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 2006-2007.
  • Mary Elizabeth Cochenour, content manager for Gaia GPS, an outdoor tech firm. Previously she was an Assistant Attorney General in the Montana Attorney General’s Office from 2012-2019. She was a Deputy County Attorney with the Lewis and Clark County Attorney’s Office from 2008-2012, and was an attorney with the Office of the State Public Defender from 2007-2008. A 2005 graduate of the Alexander Blewett III School of Law, she clerked for former Montana Supreme Court Justice Brian Morris from 2006-2007.
  • David Ole Olson, Assistant Attorney General in the Montana Attorney General’s Office. Olson served as a special U.S. Attorney in the U.S., Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana, from 2012-2017, and he has also been an assistant city attorney for the City of Helena and a lawyer for Mountain West Bank in Helena. A 2006 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, he clerked for former Montana Supreme Court Justice Brian Morris from 2006-2007

The commission’s action followed the close of a 30-day public comment period.  Before recommending the nominees to the governor, commission members interviewed six applicants. A total of nine attorneys applied for the seat.

The person appointed by the governor is subject to Senate confirmation during the 2021 legislative session.  If confirmed, the appointee will serve for the remainder of Judge Reynolds’ term, which expires in January 2023.