Attorney Jessica Fehr is the newest Yellowstone County District Court judge.
Fehr was appointed Monday by Gov. Steve Bullock to replace Ingrid Gustafson, who was seated on the Montana Supreme Court in January.
Fehr, a former assistant U.S. attorney, is now a shareholder at local law firm Moulton Bellingham PC. She learned of the appointment when she got a call from the governor around 10:30 a.m.
“And it was — it was a really pleasant surprise on a Monday morning,” Fehr said.
No start date has yet been set, but Fehr said she’d work quickly to transition her current clients to new attorneys. In the past, attorneys appointed to the local district court bench have taken 30-45 days to make the move, Fehr said.
“I’m looking forward to jumping back into public service,” Fehr said. “I’ve missed that part of being a lawyer.”
Fehr said the new job would give her a way to “make Yellowstone County a little better every day.”
Fehr grew up in Billings, attended Billings Catholic Schools and received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Montana. She serves on the Yellowstone Area Bar Association Family Law Project subcommittee and is active with the Billings Catholic Schools Foundation.
The position is subject to election in November and carries a six-year term. The job pays $132,567 in salary.
Fehr is the second appointment to the court in the past five months. In November, Bullock named Don Harris to replace former judge Russell Fagg, who is now a Republican primary candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Two more judgeships will open in Yellowstone County this year, in response to climbing caseloads in the 13th Judicial District, the state’s busiest district.
Voters will elect those candidates in November, and the new judges will take office in January 2019. Filing for the races closes on March 12.