Sunday, April 14, 2024

Applications due by April 8 to fill judicial vacancy

| March 28, 2024 12:00 AM

In the wake of Judge Deborah “Kim” Christopher’s announcement last week that she’s resigning from the bench effective April 5, Governor Greg Gianforte announced this week that his office is now accepting applications and nominations to fill her seat in the 20th Judicial District.

The chief justice of the Montana Supreme Court, Mike McGrath, notified the governor of the impending vacancy March 21, and nominations are due by April 8. The 20th Judicial District includes two judges who preside over district courts in Lake and Sanders counties.  

According to a press release from the governor’s office, “any lawyer in good standing who has the qualifications set forth by law for holding the vacant position may apply or be nominated.”

The application form is available electronically at

Applications must be submitted electronically as well as in hard copy by 5 p.m. Monday, April 8.

The public may review the applications and provide letters of support or other comments regarding the applicants at from Tuesday, April 9, through Thursday, May 9. Applicants must receive at least three letters of support to be considered for appointment by the governor.

Christopher announced March 15 that she's stepping down from a position she's held since 2000. Her term expires at the end of this year.

Polson attorney Britt Cotter is the only candidate who filed to run for her seat. 

Judge Molly Owen is the second judge presiding over the 20th Judicial District, and was appointed by Gianforte to replace Judge Jim Manley after he retired mid-term. Her name will also appear on the ballot in 2024.