Panel to Consider Redrawing Montana’s Judicial Districts

Montana has 22 judicial districts

By ALISON NOON, Associated Press

HELENA — A newly appointed panel will consider whether to redraw Montana’s judicial districts for the first time in more than 80 years.

Legislative leaders, Montana’s chief justice and other legal institutions picked the seven members of the Judicial Redistricting Commission ahead of a July 31 deadline.

Montana has 22 judicial districts. They have been split, but not redrawn, since 1929.

Rep. Steve Fitzpatrick says a state Supreme Court review last year found major discrepancies in judges’ workloads from one district to another. Fitzpatrick says he proposed appointing the commission to fix the uneven workloads and speed up court decisions in backlogged areas of the state.

The Great Falls Republican sponsored the proposal on behalf of the Supreme Court and attorney general.

Montana’s Legislature and governor would have to approve the panel’s recommendations.