Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Lake County deputy attorney tapped for judicial vacancy

by By DARRELL EHRLICK Daily Montanan
| June 9, 2022 12:00 AM

Gov. Greg Gianforte has appointed Molly Owen to fill a judicial vacancy in Lake and Sanders counties.

Before accepting the appointment, Owen worked as Deputy County Attorney for Lake County since 2015 and as St. Ignatius Town Attorney since 2017. She graduated magna cum laude from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University in 2012, according to her application. Owen will be replacing Judge James Manley, who is retiring on June 1, and she will be sworn in on June 20.

“Molly is an accomplished attorney who appreciates the court’s role in interpreting laws, not making them from the bench,” Gov. Gianforte said in a press release announcing the appointment. “A strong supporter of drug treatment courts and maximizing efficiencies in the courtroom, Molly will serve the people of Lake and Sanders counties well.”

In May, the governor’s advisory council interviewed the four applicants and considered public comment, including letters of support and application materials. From there, the advisory council forwarded two nominees to the governor on May 19, according to the press release; it did not name the other candidate.

While working as the Deputy County Attorney for Lake County, Owen specialized in domestic violence cases, according to the Lake County Leader.

Since 2018, a grant from the Violence Against Women Act has funded her position as Deputy County Attorney, according to her application. As part of the grant, she was required to coordinate training for community members, law enforcement, local bar association members and the judiciary.

“We have had nationally known speakers come to Polson to educate community members on — among other issues — stalking, the importance of orders protection, and investigating a domestic violence case through the lens of knowing that the victim will not engage in the prosecution,” she wrote.

As Lake County Deputy Attorney, she helped increase the local conviction rate from 72% to 90%, according to the 2020 Lake County Leader article.

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