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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Judicial Committee: State Needs 21 More District Court Judges

Montana judicial need by district
Montana Legislative Services Division
Montana judicial need by district.

Montana needs more district court judges, according to members of an interim judicial committee that met today.

A study by the District Court Council reported an additional 21 judges are needed to meet case workload demands in the state.

The judiciary interim committee that reviewed the report Tuesday was originally asked by the 2015 legislature to determine if reorganizing the state’s judicial districts was necessary based on current workloads.

Third Judicial District Court Judge Ray Dayton says Montana’s justice system needs more funding, not redistricting.

“What the judges tell me is that they want to see a commitment made by the government of the state of Montana to fund the judiciary up to the need that is apparent from all of these statistics.”

Montana’s Judicial Branch currently makes up less than one percent of the state’s $12 billion budget, according to a Legislative Service Division report.

Members of the judicial committee said the additional judges and supporting staff needed to meet the current caseload would cost around $10 million.

While ideas for additional resources are discussed, committee staffers are looking to see if any amount of redistricting could help Montana’s burdened justice system.

Corin Cates-Carney is the news director at Montana Public Radio. He joined MTPR in 2015 and is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism.
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