Montana Supreme Court

Dirk Sandefur.
Josh Burnham

There are three seats open on the Montana Supreme Court this election cycle, but only one of them is contested. The candidates for that seat are UM Adjunct Law Professor Kristen Juras and District Court Judge Dirk Sandefur. Sandefur talks with Montana Public Radio's Eric Whitney in this candidate profile.

Montana Supreme Court candidate Dirk Sandefur believes his life experiences provide common sense and  intuitive insights in court, but personal or ideological values of associated groups should not drive legal decisions. Judge Sandefur says, "I have a 14-year career in one of Montana's busiest judicial districts of deciding cases based on the facts and law without any consideration of my personal political views or other philosophical views that I have." Sandefur is one of two candidates running for the Montana Supreme Court, which is tasked with interpreting and upholding the state's constitution.

Montana Supreme Court Candidate Kristen Juras says she would be the only justice who has irrigated a hay field in addition to filing and defending water rights claims. Juras has 34 years of experience representing farmers, ranchers, small business owners, non-profit organizations and individuals in the daily legal issues they face. She currently teaches at the University of Montana School of Law and says she would "bring an area of expertise that is currently lacking in the court."

Montana Supreme Court
Montana Supreme Court

A new survey indicates Montana’s Supreme Court is well-respected by those who use it the most. The 2016 Bench and Bar survey is essentially a performance review of Montana’s high court.

Candidates for Montana’s contested seat in the state Supreme Court met and debated in Seeley Lake Monday night during a candidate forum.

The race between Kristen Juras and Dirk Sandefur is the only nonpartisan contest appearing on this year’s ballot. And whoever is elected will serve eight years as one of seven justices in Montana’s highest court.