MTPR

Montana judicial branch

Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

The head of the Montana Supreme Court says drug and alcohol abuse continues to weigh down the state’s justice system.

Chief Justice Mike McGrath this week delivered the State of Judiciary address to lawmakers of the 66th legislative session.

Gavel.
(PD)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers agreed today to fund new judges for Montana’s burdened court system. But, as lawmakers focus on cutting spending statewide, the future of other services in courts are uncertain.

Montana Capitol, Helena, MT.
William Marcus

As the state faces a budget shortfall, lawmakers in Helena are asking departments across the state to trim their spending. But the judicial branch says its caseloads are increasing, and it needs more funds.

Between 2014 and 2015 the number of cases of child abuse and neglect in district courts rose by 700, according to testimony from court representatives.

Montana District Court caseloads.
Montana Legislative Fiscal Division

On Wednesday, Montana’s Judicial Branch recommended adding more judges to understaffed county courts. 

The proposal brought before the Judicial Redistricting Commission asks for five new judges, at a cost of just over $2 million.

Montana District Court caseloads.
Montana Legislative Fiscal Division

The number of child abuse and neglect cases in Montana is weighing down the state’s already burdened court system.

“It’s significant. It’s actually startling.”

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