Two Havre attorneys have put in their bid to take over the district judge position being vacated when Dave Rice retires at the end of November.
Both said they have long had an interest in moving to the bench.
“It’s hard not to have an interest in it,” Dan Boucher said in an interview this morning.
“It’s something that’s always been on my mind. It’s an important position. It’s an important role in our judicial system,” was Brian Lilletvedt’s comment.
Rice, who was appointed in 2004 and won re-election in 2006, announced in August he was retiring.
The state Judicial Nominations Commission screens candidates and sends three to five nominees to the governor, who appoints the replacement. The commission announced Tuesday that Boucher and Lilletvedt had applied by Monday's deadline.
The commission is screening the applications and accepting public comment.
The applications are available for viewing online at http://courts.mt.gov/supreme/boards/jud_nomination/default.mcpx.
The commission will accept comment through Nov. 4, then is slated to schedule interviews in Havre Nov. 17 to 19.
Both candidates have ex-tensive experience practicing in Havre.
Lilletvedt, 57, received his law degree from the University of Montana School of Law in 1978 and has practiced in Havre since September of that year. He is admitted to practice before the state Supreme Court, the Fort Belknap Community Tribal Court, the Chippewa Cree Tribal Court at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation and the Blackfeet Tribal Court as well as the U.S. District Court for Montana.
Boucher, 53, received his law degree from the UM School of Law in 1984 and has practiced in Havre since August of that year. He lists the Montana state court, the Rocky Boy Tribal court, the U.S. District Court for Montana and the Fort Belknap Tribal court as the special jurisdictions in which he is admitted.
Both candidates said the timing of Rice’s retirement fit into switching their careers to the bench.
“I’ve been trying cases about 32 years now,” Lilletvedt said. “The timing is right for me to let me spend another eight or nine years on the bench.”
Boucher said that, along with the timing fitting well for his life, he also received encouragement to apply for the position.
“I just feel like things came together, that I was the right person at the right time,” he said. “I think I can make a contribution to the community, to the district.”
He said he believes three main factors make him a strong candidate for the position.
Boucher said his experience, temperament and relationships with the people involved in the system on a day-to-day basis — attorneys who appear in court, courthouse personnel across the district, and law enforcement officers — would make him an effective judge.
“I really do think that those are the primary factors that would bode well for my getting the position and fulfilling it,” he said.
Lilletvedt said his experience — particularly his work in the full-service law firm of Bosch, Kuhr, Dugdale, Martin and Kaze, in which he is a partner — has given him the skills he needs to be an effective judge.
He added that he has extensive experience in many areas of the law, particularly in many areas of civil law that the district court deals with regularly, such as family law and domestic relations.
“That’s what I’ve been doing for 30 years,” Lilletvedt said.
Even in areas where he has not actively worked cases often, he has listened to and discussed cases in those areas with other attorneys in the firm, he said.
“I think it has given me a very broad base,” Lilletvedt said.