United States District Court for the District of Montana

From Judgepedia
Jump to: navigation, search
District of Montana
Ninth Circuit
Judges: 3
Posts: 3
Vacancies: 0
Active judges
Chief: Dana Christensen
Senior Judges
Magistrate Judges
Former Judges
(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)
More than 40%

The United States District Court for the District of Montana is the United States district court whose jurisdiction is the State of Montana (except the part of the state within Yellowstone National Park, which is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming). It is one of ninety-four United States district courts. Appeals from the District of Montana go to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The United States Attorney for the District of Montana represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The current district attorney is Michael Cotter.[1]

Vacancy warning level

The United States District Court for the District of Montana's vacancy warning level is green. The court currently has no vacancies of its three posts.

Pending nominations

There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the District of Montana.

Active judges

Article III judges

JudgeBornHomeAppointed byActiveChiefPreceededBachelorsLaw
Judge Brian MorrisSeptember 5, 1963Helena, MontanaObama 12/12/2013 - PresentSam HaddonStanford University, 1986Stanford University, 1992
Judge Susan P. Watters1958Helena, MontanaObama 12/12/2013 - PresentRichard CebullEastern Montana College, B.A., 1980University of Montana School of Law, J.D., 1988
Chief Judge Dana Christensen1951New York, NYObama 12/5/2011 - PresentDonald MolloyStanford U., B.A., 1973University of Montana Law, J.D., 1976

Senior judges

JudgeAppointed byActiveChiefSeniorBachelorsLaw
Senior Judge Donald MolloyClinton 8/1/1996 - 8/16/20112001 - 20088/16/2011 - PresentUniversity of Montana, B.A., 1968University of Montana School of Law, J.D., 1976
Senior Judge Sam HaddonW. Bush 7/25/2001-12/31/201212/31/2012-presentRice U., B.S., 1959University of Montana, School of Law, J.D., 1965
Senior Judge Charles LovellReagan 4/4/1985 - 6/14/20006/14/2000 - PresentUniversity of Montana, B.S., 1952University of Montana School of Law, J.D., 1959
Senior Judge Jack ShanstromH.W. Bush 5/14/1990 - 1/30/20011996 - 20011/30/2001 - PresentUniversity of Montana, 1956University of Montana School of Law, 1957

Magistrate judges

Magistrate Judge Keith Strong1/6/2007 - PresentUniversity of Montana, B.A., 1971University of Montana School of Law, J.D., 1974
Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby2/25/2002 - PresentMacalester College, 1972University of Montana School of Law, 1977
Magistrate Judge Jerry Lynch6/10/2006 - PresentCarroll College, 1973University of Montana School of Law, 1981


The Counties of Montana (click for larger map)

The District of Montana has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.

The court is located in Billings, Butte, Great Falls, Helena and Missoula.




Federal Court Caseload Statistics*
YearStarting case load:Cases filed:Total cases:Cases terminated:Remaining cases:Median time(Criminal)**:Median time(Civil)**:3 Year Civil cases#:Vacant posts:## Trials/Post
2013 902121421161251 8657.27.849 (8.9%)15.435
2012 894124821421180 9627.29.347 (7.8%)2.141
2011 827118520121095 9177.19.244 (9.5%)1.539
2010 1015106020751237 8386.99.340 (8.7%)049
2009 1088116022481242 10067.910.358 (10.6%)038
2008 1199121124101330 10807.410.657 (10.3%)044
2007116913022471137610957.59.559 (9.1%)045
*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September.    **Time in months from filing to completion.
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts.    ##This is the total number of months that any judicial posts had spent vacant that year.

Notable cases

For a searchable list of opinions, please see Justia.com-Montana District Court Cases.


The District of Montana was established by Congress on February 22, 1889, with one post to cover the entire state. Over time two additional judicial posts were added for a total of three current posts.[4]

Judicial posts

The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the District of Montana:[4]

Year Statute Total Seats
February 22, 1889 25 Stat. 676 1
September 14, 1922 42 Stat. 837 2 (1 temporary)
May 31, 1938 52 Stat. 584 2 (temporary post expired)
July 10, 1984 98 Stat. 333 3

Former chief judges

In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy in the office of chief judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.[5][6]

Former judges

For more information on the judges of the District of Montana, see former federal judges of the District of Montana.

Federal courthouse

Five separate courthouses serve the District of Montana.

See also

External links


MontanaMontana Supreme CourtMontana District CourtsMontana Courts of Limited JurisdictionMontana Water CourtMontana Workers' Compensation CourtUnited States District Court for the District of MontanaUnited States bankruptcy court, District of MontanaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Ninth CircuitMontana countiesMontana judicial newsMontana judicial electionsJudicial selection in MontanaMontanaTemplate.jpg