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A state committee has sent the names of five people vying to become Missoula's fifth District Court judge to the governor for appointment and confirmation. 

The State Judicial Nomination Committee held public interviews Monday in Missoula, trimming the field from seven to five recommendations for filling the additional bench, for Missoula and Mineral counties, created by the 2017 Legislature. 

The five who will be considered by Gov. Steve Bullock for appointment are:

  • Karen Paula Kane, assistant attorney general with the Montana Department of Justice Prosecution Services Bureau,

  • Jason Troy Marks, chief deputy Missoula County attorney,

  • Donald James McCubbin Jr., senior deputy Missoula County attorney,

  • Tracy Labin Rhodes, attorney at Tracy Labin Rhodes, P.L.L.C., and 
  • Shane Anthony Vannatta, shareholder-attorney at Worden Thane P.C.

The governor's appointment will need to be confirmed by the state Senate during the legislative session, which began Monday. The confirmed selection will hold the office until the initial term ends Dec. 31, 2020. Whoever wins the elected seat that year will hold the bench for a six-year term.

Four years ago the Montana Supreme Court released a work study that found the state's fourth judicial district, which covers Missoula and Mineral counties, was short at least two judges considering the current caseload. In 2017, state lawmakers appropriated funding for one new judge in Missoula, and two needed in Yellowstone County.

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Criminal justice