The justice of the peace for Mineral County remains on paid administrative leave pending a state investigation.
Wanda James agreed to step away from her full-time post starting July 29 when she was informed of the investigation.
“I can confirm that our Division of Criminal Investigation here at the Montana Department of Justice is investigating the Mineral County Justice of the Peace,” DCI spokeswoman Anastasia Burton said in an email Monday. “The investigation involves missing court funds.”
Burton said her office was requested by Mineral County Attorney Marcia Boris to conduct the investigation.
According to Mineral County Commissioner Duane Simons, James’ day-to-day case load is being handled by substitute judges, primarily Kathleen Brown, the county’s clerk of district court. Retired District Court Judge Douglas Harkin is also on a list of potential substitutes James was required by law to file upon taking office.
James was appointed to fill the justice of peace position in 1998. She’s 2 1/2 years into her fourth four-year term. Justice Court handles general appearances twice a week, on Monday afternoons and Thursday morning; omnibus hearings on Tuesday mornings; and civil proceedings on Wednesdays.
James is also contracted to conduct Alberton and Superior city courts.
The weekly Mineral Independent reported last week another Wanda James who works at Mineral Community Hospital in Superior has been a target of false rumors that she’s under investigation.
That James “is embarrassed by the negative attention that she has been receiving, but will live through it,” the hospital’s outreach coordinator, Monte Turner, told reporter Keith Cousins.