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HELENA — Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson says he will retire when his term ends Dec. 31, 2012.

The 66-year-old justice announced his decision Tuesday. He says he will have served 19 years on the court by the end of this term and it's time for him to move on.

Nelson says he timed the announcement to give those interested in running as much advance notice as possible. He says that's because campaigns are expensive, time consuming and increasingly partisan.

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Nelson was appointed in 1993. He was in private practice and serving as Glacier County attorney before his appointment.

Nelson was born in Moscow, Idaho, is a U.S. Army veteran and worked as a financial analyst with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission before moving to Montana to practice law.

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