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State panel selects three nominees for Helena-area judge position

Lewis and Clark County Courthouse
Posted at 11:13 AM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 13:30:06-04

HELENA — A state panel has selected three nominees to fill a vacant district court judge seat, covering Lewis and Clark and Broadwater Counties.

After interviewing six candidates Monday, the Judicial Nomination Commission chose the finalists for the open position representing Montana’s 1st Judicial District:

· Chris Abbott, an assistant attorney general with the Montana Department of Justice’s Agency Legal Services Bureau
· Mary Cochenour, a former assistant attorney general who joined the tech firm Gaia GPS earlier this year
· Ole Olson, an assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Prosecution Services Bureau and state training coordinator

Gov. Steve Bullock will now have 30 days to select one of the nominees to replace Judge James Reynolds, who retired earlier this month.

Whoever Bullock appoints will have to be confirmed by the Montana Senate during next year’s legislative session. If approved, the new judge will serve through the end of Reynolds’ term in January 2023.

The other candidates for the position were Gregory Bonilla, Dan Guzynski and Chad Parker. Commission members said during deliberations Monday that all six candidates they interviewed were highly qualified, and their decision was difficult.