Moses winding down private practice, gearing up for District Court judgeship

2014-04-21T17:00:00Z 2014-04-22T06:31:04Z Moses winding down private practice, gearing up for District Court judgeshipBy CLAIR JOHNSON cjohnson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Billings attorney Michael G. Moses will have about a month to wind down his private practice before taking the bench to fill a vacant judgeship in Yellowstone County.

While the details are still being planned, Moses said Monday he will be sworn into office sometime the week of May 19.

Gov. Steve Bullock on Friday appointed Moses, 61, to the position formerly held by Susan Watters, who now is a U.S. District Court judge in Billings.

The Montana Supreme Court and court staffers, Moses said, have contacted him about the transition. He will get to choose who will swear him in, a decision he has not yet made, he said.

Moses also will have about a month to close his practice.

Most of his major criminal cases will go to his longtime partner, Jay Lansing, who specializes in defense work, he said.

“Jay can handle (those) with ease,” Moses said.

Some of his major civil cases have associate attorneys, Moses said. And attorneys in Billings “have been great” about assisting him, he added.

Moses has been in private practice in Billings since 1978 and is a principal in the two-member firm, Moses and Lansing PC. Lansing joined the firm in the early 1980s. “It’s been a great relationship,” he said.

Moses said he is looking forward to continuing his passion for the law but from a new perspective as a judge. “I think it is going to be a delightful change,” he said.

Moses was among five Billings attorneys nominated for the position by the state’s Judicial Nomination Commission. The other candidates were Dennis Eakin, Lynn Grant, William Speare and Jeffrey Turner, all Billings attorneys with largely civil experience.

Moses said he and the four other nominees had half-hour interviews with the governor on April 16. He got the call notifying him of his appointment on Friday.

In his application to the commission, Moses said his family, law partner and colleagues encouraged him to seek the position after Watters was nominated to the federal bench.

Moses attended Billings Senior High and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana. He graduated from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., and was admitted to the Montana Bar in 1978.

Moses will serve in the 13th Judicial District until an election is held in 2016. The winner of that election will serve the remainder of Watters’ term, which expires in 2019. The job pays $117,600 a year.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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