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Gazette opinion: Thanks, Judge Todd, and welcome, Judge Linneweber

Gazette opinion: Thanks, Judge Todd, and welcome, Judge Linneweber

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Judge Todd

District Judge Gregory Todd is retiring at the end of the year after 21 years on the bench.

Judge Gregory Todd will be missed.

There's something admirable about a judge who prepared for rapping a gavel by swinging a sledgehammer to pound railroad spikes before heading to law school. 

As the Gazette's A.J. Etherington revealed in an excellent portrait of the retiring 13th Judicial District judge this week, Todd had a wide-ranging 23-year legal career before being appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Marc Racicot in 2000. He was a prosecutor and civil practitioner who covered a wide array of cases.

In the two decades-plus he served on the bench in Billings, Todd earned a reputation for evenhandedness and even displayed that rarest of judicial attributes, a sense of humor.

With characteristic bluntness, he pointed out upon his departure from the bench the peril of the Montana Legislature's ongoing attack on the state's judicial branch.

“I believe we’re in great danger at the national level as well as the state level of people losing government that has three equal branches and has checks and balances,” Todd said. “I think there’s a faction of Legislatures that are upset with rulings… that the push seems to be to try to create the judiciary in their own image.”

We share Todd's concern. The elimination of the Judicial Nomination Commission and the partisan attack on the Montana Supreme Court that we saw in the last session are certainly indications of such a legislative agenda.

Meanwhile, we offer congratulations and every best wish to Todd's successor, Brett Linneweber, who has been serving as a Yellowstone County prosecutor. Todd praised Linneweber's appointment, saying he looks forward to him "continuing the long tradition of competent judges in the 13th Judicial District."

We do too.

The Billings Gazette Editorial Board includes President and Publisher Dave Worstell, Regional Editor David McCumber, and Chief Photographer Larry Mayer.


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