(Washington, D.C.) - Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus has announced the formation of a search committee to replace the retiring U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy. Molloy, who took the post in 1996, announced Wednesday (12/22/2010) he plans to take senior status next year.
"I thank Judge Molloy for his service and dedication to Montana. He has honorably served Montanans for more than 14 years and I wish him all the best as he embarks on a new path," said Baucus. "Our challenge now is to fill this upcoming vacancy with a qualified, ethical, hardworking individual with respect for and a commitment to the ideals we uphold as Montanans. To do this, I've put together a diverse panel of some of the top legal minds in the state to help recommend the right person for the job."
Baucus has selected five highly respected individuals across Montana's legal community to make up the panel. His selection of committee members was based on an effort to create a geographically diverse, bipartisan panel while ensuring both male and female attorneys were included along with individuals with diverse backgrounds within the legal field.
Baucus says the goal of the process is to make sure the most ethical and qualified individual for Federal District Judge is appointed.
- The advisory panel will evaluate key criteria and consider any names they believe fit the criteria.
Baucus has outlined the following criteria including but not limited to:
-depth and breadth of experience
-ethics above reproach
-sharp analytical skills
-superior writing skills
-respect for precedent
- The committee will make a recommendation of one or more individuals best suited for the appointment and upon review, Senator Baucus will forward the recommendation to the President.
- The President will then have the opportunity to nominate that individual.
- Upon a Presidential nomination, candidates for U.S. District Court Judge must then receive a majority vote from the U.S. Senate before being confirmed to the post.
- James H. Goetz - Bozeman. Originally from Miles City, Goetz is a general practice and trial attorney with Goetz, Gallik and Baldwin P.C. Goetz graduated from Yale Law School in 1968. He is a member of the State Bar of Montana, Association of Trial Lawyers, and Montana Trial Lawyers Association. He was also an Associate Professor and Lecturer in Political Science at Montana State University from 1968-1988.
- Candace C. Fetscher - Missoula. Fetscher has been practicing with Garlington, Lohn & Robinson since 1976. Fetscher graduated from the University of Montana School of Law. She is a member of the Western Montana and American Bar Associations, State Bar of Montana, Montana Defense Trial Lawyers Association, and Federal Bar Association. She has served on the UM Law School Board of visitors and in 1999 received the Western Montana Bar Association's Outstanding Attorney Award.
- Karla Gray - Helena. Chief Justice Gray served as the Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court and was the first woman elected to that position. Gray attended Western Michigan University, earning a B.A. and an M.A. in African history. She received a J.D. in 1976 from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, where she was an editor of the Hastings Law Review. After law school, she moved to Butte, Montana, where she served as a law clerk for Senior United States District Court Judge W.D. Murray. After her clerkship ended in 1977, Gray practiced law as in-house corporate counsel and in a solo practice. Governor Stan Stephens appointed Gray as an Associate Justice of the Montana Supreme Court in 1991. Gray won election as an Associate Justice in 1992 and again in 1998. She subsequently became the first woman to be elected Chief Justice in 2000.
- Milton Datsopoulos - Missoula. Datsopoulos is founding partner of Datsopoulos, MacDonald and Lind and specializes in trial practice, personal injury, criminal defense, medical malpractice, and business and property transactions. He graduated from University of Montana School of Law in 1965 with honors. Datsopoulos is a member of the State Bar of Montana, American Bar Association, and Montana Trial Lawyers. Milt served as Chairman of the Montana State Commission on Public Officials Salaries, as the Ninth Circuit Lawyer Representative, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Montana (2002-2003), and chaired the Montana Salary Commission (1973-1985).
- Martha Sheehy - Billings. Sheehy practices law in Billings, where she specializes in business law, insurance, litigation, and personal injury. She graduated with high honors from University of Montana School of Law in 1988. She is a member of the State Bar of Montana (past president 1997-1998), and serves on the Judicial Nomination Commission for the Montana Supreme Court.
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