9887191_G(MTN News-GREAT FALLS) District Judge Dirk Sandefur of Great Falls announced about a year ago that he is a candidate for the Montana Supreme Court.h

He has been a part of the criminal justice system in various roles for the past three decades.

Born and raised in Great Falls, Sandefur become a police officer for Havre in the late 80s, and that, he says, is what sparked his interest in the court system.

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After serving three years as a police officer, Sandefur entered law school and returned home to become a Deputy County Attorney and later served eight years as County Attorney.

His next role came when the District Court system needed to expand.

“The Legislature created a fourth judge position in Great Falls and Cascade County in 2002. I ran for election and was fortunate enough to win in a contested race,” Sandefur said.

Now, after 13 years on the 8th District bench, he’s ready to take the next step.

“I am running for the Montana Supreme Court because it is a critical place for the legal system in Montana,” Sandefur said.

Sandefur hopes that his 23 years of legal experience will now lead him to the state’s highest court.

“It is absolutely critical and imperative that we have experienced people that understand the independent role of the court, we maintain the integrity of the court, and the public confidence of the court,” Sandefur said.

Over the years, Sandefur has overseen many child abuse and neglect cases. He has presided over many high-profile trials, such as the recent murder trial against Adam Sanchez Jr.

“My favorite part about being a judge overall is that you have a very unique opportunity to have a direct effect on people’s lives.”

If he’s successful in the Supreme Court bid, Sandefur says it would be a bittersweet victory.

“The hardest part if I am elected will be to leave this job that I love. I have met a wide variety of quality people. I am proud to have been given the opportunity by the citizens of this county to serve them,” Sandefur said.

Kristen Juras is the only other candidate running against Sandefur at this time.