United States District Court for the District of Montana

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United States District Court for the District of Montana
(D. Mont.)
Map of U.S. - MT.svg
More locations
Appeals toNinth Circuit
EstablishedNovember 8, 1889
Chief JudgeBrian Morris
Officers of the court
U.S. AttorneyJesse Laslovich

The United States District Court for the District of Montana (in case citations, D. Mont.) 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 United States District Court for the District of Wyoming).[1][2] The court is located in Billings, Butte, Great Falls, Helena and Missoula.

Cases from the District of Montana are appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).

The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Montana represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court.


The District of Montana was organized on February 22, 1889, by 25 Stat. 676, following Montana's admission to statehood. Congress organized Montana as a single judicial district, and authorized one judgeship for the district court, which was assigned to the Ninth Circuit. A temporary second judgeship was added on September 14, 1922, by 42 Stat. 837, and was made permanent on May 31, 1938, by 52 Stat. 584. On July 10, 1984, by 98 Stat. 333, the third judgeship was authorized.[3]

Current judges[edit]

As of April 7, 2021:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
19 Chief Judge Brian Morris Great Falls 1963 2013–present 2020–present Obama
18 District Judge Dana L. Christensen Missoula 1951 2011–present 2013–2020 Obama
20 District Judge Susan P. Watters Billings 1958 2013–present Obama
13 Senior Judge Charles C. Lovell inactive 1929 1985–2000 2000–present Reagan
15 Senior Judge Donald W. Molloy Missoula 1946 1996–2011 2001–2008 2011–present Clinton
17 Senior Judge Sam E. Haddon Helena 1937 2001–2012 2012–present G.W. Bush

Vacancies and pending nominations[edit]

Seat Prior judge's duty station Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
1 Missoula Dana L. Christensen Senior status TBD[4]

Former judges[edit]

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Hiram Knowles MT 1834–1911 1890–1904 B. Harrison retirement
2 William Henry Hunt MT 1857–1949 1904–1910 T. Roosevelt elevation to C.C.P.A.
3 Carl L. Rasch MT 1866–1961 1910–1911 Taft resignation
4 George M. Bourquin MT 1863–1958 1912–1934 1934–1958 Taft death
5 Charles Nelson Pray MT 1868–1963 1924–1957 1948–1957 1957–1963 Coolidge death
6 James H. Baldwin MT 1876–1944 1935–1944 F. Roosevelt death
7 R. Lewis Brown MT 1892–1948 1945–1948 F. Roosevelt death
8 William Daniel Murray MT 1908–1994 1949–1965 1957–1965 1965–1994 Truman death
9 William James Jameson MT 1898–1990 1957–1969 1965–1968 1969–1990 Eisenhower death
10 Russell Evans Smith MT 1908–1990 1966–1979 1968–1978 1979–1990 L. Johnson death
11 James F. Battin MT 1925–1996 1969–1990 1978–1990 1990–1996 Nixon death
12 Paul G. Hatfield MT 1928–2000 1979–1996 1990–1996 1996–2000 Carter death
14 Jack D. Shanstrom MT 1932–2020 1990–2001 1996–2001 2001–2020 G.H.W. Bush death
16 Richard F. Cebull MT 1944–present 2001–2013 2008–2013 2013 G.W. Bush retirement

Chief judges[edit]

Chief judges have administrative responsibilities with respect to their district court. Unlike the Supreme Court, where one justice is specifically nominated to be chief, the office of chief judge rotates among the district court judges. To be chief, 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 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.

When the office was created in 1948, the chief judge was the longest-serving judge who had not elected to retire on what has since 1958 been known as senior status or declined to serve as chief judge. After August 6, 1959, judges could not become or remain chief after turning 70 years old. The current rules have been in operation since October 1, 1982.

Succession of seats[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 106.
  2. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 131.
  3. ^ U. S. District Court Judges, District of Montana, 1889 - 2016.
  4. ^ "Future Judicial Vacancies | United States Courts". www.uscourts.gov.

External links[edit]