HELENA - Gov. Judy Martz on Friday appointed Billings attorney Ingrid Gustafson as a new district judge in the 13th Judicial District in Yellowstone County, effective Jan. 1.
Martz selected Gustafson, who turns 42 next month, from a field of five candidates for the seat being vacated by District Judge Diane Barz, who is retiring from the bench Dec. 31. Gustafson will be one of five district judges in the 13th Judicial District, which covers Yellowstone County.
A Wyoming native who moved to Montana 31 years ago, Gustafson is a 1979 Billings West High School graduate. She attended Montana State University on a ski scholarship and graduated with honors in business in 1983. She received her law degree, with honors, from the University of Montana in 1988.
Gustafson has been in private practice since 1991, and since 1996, she's been the managing partner and attorney with the Billings law firm of Graves, Toennis and Gustafson.
Gustafson previously worked as a staff attorney for the Social Security Administration's office of hearings and appeals for two years, and worked for nearly four years as a public defender in Rosebud County.
"The people of the 13th District are gaining a community leader who is concerned about making Billings stronger," Martz said, citing Gustafson's role in helping develop Amend Park on the south side of Billings.
As she interviewed Gustafson for the job, Martz said, "You could feel the commitment to the law."
Gustafson thanked Martz for appointing her and said: "I am really looking forward to it. I can only hope and pray I can meet the challenges ahead of me and the trust of Governor Martz."
Asked about what her judicial philosophy would be, Gustafson said, "My goal being a district court judge is to approach each case with impartiality, listen to the facts, apply the law to the facts and make the best decision I can under these circumstances."
She was accompanied by her husband, Boon, and children, Tayt and Teaje, for the appointment ceremony in the governor's reception room in the Capitol.
The other four attorneys under consideration for the judgeship, all from Billings, were: Kevin Gillen, a deputy county attorney in Yellowstone County's civil department; Melanie Logan, a former deputy county attorney now in private practice; Kevin Pederson, a deputy county attorney; and Terry Seiffert, a lawyer in private practice. Gustafson was an unsuccessful applicant for a vacant district judgeship in 2000, but then-Gov. Marc Racicot selected Greg Todd.
|Details Name: Ingrid Gayle Gustafson.
Office: District Judge in 13th Judicial District, effective Jan. 1, 2004.
Birthdate and place: Dec. 11, 1961, in Laramie, Wyo. Moved to Billings in 1972.
Family: Husband, Boon, and children, Tayt and Teaje.
Education: Graduated from Billings West High School, 1979; received bachelor's degree in business, with honors, from Montana State University, 1983; received law degree, with honors, from University of Montana, 1988.
Past employment: Odd jobs, summers, 1976-1984; testing technician, Psychological Associates, summers, 1980-83. assistant director and ski coach, Bridger Ski Education Foundation, 1983-84 and 1984-85 school years; legal intern, Herndon, Harper & Munro, summers, 1985 and 1986; legal intern, Associated Students of the University of Montana, 1985-86; staff attorney, Social Security Administration, 1988-90; attorney-partner, Schwarz and Gustafson, 1991-93; attorney and partner, Graves, Toennis & Gustafson, 1994 to present; managing partner, Graves, Toennis & Gustafson, 1996 to present.
Miscellaneous: Member U.S. ski team, 1978; member of MSU ski team, 1979-83; NCAA All-America in skiing, 1983; Billings Education Association President's Award, 2003, for service to teachers; Montana Youth Soccer Association coach of the year, 2003.