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Comments sought for Montana Water Court judge applications

HELENA — In June, the Judicial Nomination Commission began accepting applications for the position of associate judge for the Montana Water Court. Currently the position is held by Russ McElyea, who was appointed by Chief Justice McGrath to the position of chief water judge effective August 1. The Commission has received applications from Michael John Lawrence Cusick, Douglas John Ritter, Jeremiah Daniel Weiner, and Matthew Worth Williams.

The Commission is now soliciting public comment on the applicants. The applications may be viewed through a link available at: Comments will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 8, 2013.

The Montana Water Court was created by the 1979 Montana Legislature. The court has exclusive jurisdiction over the adjudication of all water rights claims in Montana. More than 200,000 water rights claims eventually will be adjudicated through the Water Court.

The associate judge of the Montana Water Court is appointed by the Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court to a four-year term. This judgeship is not subject to general election. Public comment is an extremely important part of the appointment process, especially given that Montanans do not have an opportunity to vote on the associate judge position. The Judicial Nomination Commission welcomes public comment, either in writing (e-mail or paper) or via telephone. Written comments become part of an applicant’s file and will be forwarded to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as part of the nomination process. Public comment may be submitted to any commissioner or to:
   Judicial Nomination Commission
   c/o Lois Menzies
   Office of Court Administrator
   P.O. Box 203005
   Helena, MT 59620-3005

Judicial Nomination Commission members are District Judge Richard Simonton, of Glendive; Shirley Ball, of Nashua; Mona Charles, of Kalispell; Patrick Kelly, of Miles City; Lane Larson, of Billings; Ryan Rusche, of Columbia Falls; and Paul Tuss, of Havre.

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