Gianforte Uses New Power To Appoint Cascade County Judge
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte is for the first time flexing a new power to appoint judges after the 2021 Legislature scrapped a decades-old nomination process. The governor has picked a new judge for a vacant post on the Cascade County District court bench.
Gianforte appointed attorney David Grubich to take over the Eighth Judicial District judgeship.
Grubich has served as a standing master, or a stand-in for court proceedings, since 2018. He’s worked in private practice in Great Falls since 2010 and has a background in law enforcement.
The Cascade County judgeship will be up for election in 2022, meaning Grubich will have to run to retain the seat.
Grubich was one of two applicants advanced by an advisory council last month Gianforte created to help vet candidates.
The state Legislature gave the governor direct appointment power to vacancies during the 2021 session, eliminating the judicial nomination commission that’s been around since 1973.
The Montana Supreme Court upheld the new power after it was challenged in court by opponents who said it gets rid of an important check on the executive branch. A district court judge presiding over a second legal challenge, filed by former Democratic lawmakers, declined to temporarily block the new power, although a final ruling has not yet been issued in that case.
Five people applied for the Cascade County vacancy, including Michele Reinhart Levine, who was originally appointed to the position by former Gov. Steve Bullock, but failed to clear legislative confirmation.