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Yellowstone County Courthouse

The Yellowstone County Courthouse

Seven candidates have filed for the two new Yellowstone County District Court judge positions that will begin operating next year.

The five candidates running for Department 7 will be narrowed down to two after the primary election on June 5.

The two candidates running for Department 8 will both automatically move on to the general election on Nov. 6.

The successful candidates will take office Jan. 2, 2019.

The Department 7 candidates are:

Colette Davies – partner at Bishop, Heenan and Davies. Former Billings municipal judge.

Yvette Lafrentz – standing master in Montana’s 13th and 22nd Judicial Districts.

Thomas Pardy – deputy city attorney.

Alexander Roth – solo practitioner, primarily in criminal defense. Former Marine and Stillwater County Sheriff’s deputy.

Teague Westrope – deputy city attorney. Former public defender.

The Department 8 candidates are:

Ashley Harada – solo practitioner, including criminal defense. Former staff attorney and law clerk for Montana U.S. District Court judges. Billings Catholic Schools board member.

Juli Pierce – attorney at Moulton Bellingham P.C. and guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children. Former chief deputy county attorney in Yellowstone County. Former social worker.

District court judges serve six-year terms. The salary is $132,567.

The state’s 13th Judicial District, which covers all of Yellowstone County, currently has six judges. Two standing masters help keep cases on track.

The state added two new departments this year in response to a steep increase in case filings, which county and state officials say is tied to a spike in drug abuse in recent years.

The state’s 4th Judicial District, which covers Missoula and Mineral counties, received one additional judge.

Candidate filing closes at 5 p.m. Monday.

Incumbent Michael Moses is running unopposed to retain his seat. Don Harris and Jessica Fehr, who were both appointed in recent months to fill vacancies, are also running unopposed. Fehr was appointed last week and has not yet transitioned into office.

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.