Recently appointed Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat filed for a run at the of f i c e Wednesday, whi le Just ice William Leaphart said he won't run again for his seat. Leaphart, 64, who was first elected to the court in 1994 and again in 2002, said the time has come for him to step aside. "I was just not confident that I still wanted to be reading briefs at that age," Leaphart said. "I elected to call it quits at the end of this year. It has been a real great run." Wheat was recently picked by Gov. Brian Schweitzer to fill the vacancy left by retiring Justice John Warner. He filed Wednesday to run for the seat again in November. If Wheat wins, he will have to run again in 2014 for another full eight-year-term. He worked as a deputy county attorney in Butte-Silver Bow County, then helped run a Bozeman law firm before retiring as a partner and working in mediation. Wheat was elected to the state Senate in 2002 and served a term before a crowded Democratic primary foiled his 2008 run at the attorney general's office. "The Supreme Court is a very important position," Wheat said. "I want to bring my life experience to the court." Leaphart said he won't be retiring entirely and plans to do mediation work or help out nonprofit groups. By stepping aside, he opens up another state Supreme Court seat that is likely to draw more interest than challenging Wheat . Candi dat e s for Leaphart's old seat would not face an incumbent and would be running for a full eight-year term.
One in, one out of supreme court race
Published: Thursday, February 4th, 2010
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