HELENA — A Montana legislative budget panel has given initial approval to funding two new judges to ease caseloads in Billings and Missoula.
The Joint Subcommittee on the Judicial Branch, Law Enforcement and Justice on Thursday unanimously approved $1.4 million for the judges and their staffs for 2018-2019.
Montana Public Radio reports that Chief Justice Mike McGrath had requested funding for five new judges. McGrath said a shortage of judges creates a backlog that makes it more difficult for people to get their day in court.
The panel did not approve the requests for judges in Mineral, Cascade and Flathead counties. A separate bill has been introduced to approve all five.
The panel’s vote comes at an early stage of the budget process, and changes could be made as it goes through the state House and Senate.
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