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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

A Montana district court seat has opened up after a judge’s retirement

A Montana federal district court judge has announced his plan to retire from active service, effectively creating a vacancy on the panel.

Judge Dana Christensen was nominated by former President Barack Obama to the federal bench eleven years ago. Christensen served as Chief Judge of the Montana District Court from 2013 to 2020.

According to a press release from the court on Thursday, Christensen will assume senior judge status effective on the appointment of his successor. Senior judges usually take a reduced workload, but continue to be eligible to preside over all types of federal cases.

Christensen has overseen several high-profile proceedings, including one in 2018 in which he restored federal protections to Yellowstone Grizzly Bears.

In 2020, he rejected a Republican effort to block mail in voting during Montana’s general election. Christensen’s decision to assume senior judge status creates a vacancy in the district’s allotment of three active duty federal district judges.

President Biden will confer with Montana U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester to select a nominee to replace Christensen. That person will then be presented to the U.S. Senate for consideration and approval.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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