A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT REVISING JUDICIAL ELECTION LAWS; PROVIDING FOR THE PARTISAN NOMINATION AND ELECTION OF SUPREME COURT JUSTICES AND JUDGES OF THE DISTRICT COURTS; allowing political party committees to contribute to a candidate for supreme court justice or district court judge; AMENDING SECTIONS 3-2-101, 3-5-201, 3-6-201, 3-10-201, 13-14-111, 13-14-118, 13-14-211, 13-14-212, AND 13-35-231, MCA; and PROVIDING AN APPLICABILITY DATE."
"3-2-101. Number, nomination, election, and term of office. (1) The supreme court consists of a chief justice and six associate justices who are elected by the qualified electors of the state at large at the general state elections next preceding the expiration of the terms of office of their predecessors, respectively, and hold their offices for the term of 8 years from and after the first Monday of January next succeeding their election.
(2) A supreme court justice, including the chief justice, must be nominated and elected on a partisan ballot in the same manner as provided for partisan candidates in Title 13 except that an incumbent justice who is the only candidate for the office must be placed on the general ballot as provided in Article VII, section 8, of the Montana constitution and [section 4 5].
(3) Each vacancy for justice of the supreme court is a separate and independent office for election purposes. The chief justice of the supreme court shall assign an individual number to the justices and certify these numbers to the office of the secretary of state."
"3-5-201. Election Nomination, election, and oath of office. (1) The judges of the district court, except judges pro tempore, must be elected by the qualified voters of the district.
(2) (a) Judges of the district court must be nominated and elected on a partisan ballot in the same manner as provided for partisan candidates in Title 13 except that an incumbent judge who is the only candidate for the office must be placed on the ballot as provided in Article VII, section 8, of the Montana constitution and [section 4 5].
(2)(3) Except as provided in subsection (1), each judge of a the district court shall, as soon as the judge has taken and subscribed the official oath, file the official oath in the office of the secretary of state."
"3-6-201. Number of judges -- election -- term of office -- chief judge -- duties of chief judge -- assistant judge. (1) The governing body of a city shall determine by ordinance the number of judges required to operate the municipal court.
(2) A municipal court judge who is not a part-time assistant judge appointed under subsection (6) must be elected at the general election, as provided in 13-1-104(3). The judge's term commences on the first Monday in January following the election. The judge shall hold office for the term of 4 years and until a successor is elected and qualified.
(3) Except as provided in subsection (2), all elections of municipal court judges are governed by the laws applicable to the election of district court judges the provisions of Title 13, chapter 14, part 2.
(6) A municipal court judge may, with the approval of the governing body of the city, appoint a part-time assistant judge, who must have the same qualifications as a judge pro tempore under 3-6-204, to serve during the municipal court judge's term of office. An order by a part-time assistant judge has the same force and effect as an order of a municipal court judge."
"3-10-201. Election. (1) Except as provided in 3-10-206, each justice of the peace must be elected by the qualified electors of the county at the general state election immediately preceding the expiration of the term of office of the justice of the peace's predecessor.
(3) Each judicial office must be a separate and independent office for election purposes, each office must be numbered by the county commissioners, and each candidate for justice of the peace shall specify the number of the office for which the candidate seeks to be elected. A candidate may not file for more than one office.
NEW SECTION. Section 5. Form of ballot for supreme court justice or district court judge retention election. (1) If the only candidate for an office of supreme court justice, the supreme court chief justice, or a district court office is the incumbent, the name of the incumbent must be placed on the official ballot for general election as follows:
(2) Following the question, provision must be made, subject to rules adopted pursuant to 13-12-202, for a voter to indicate a "yes" or a "no" vote. The form must include the incumbent's political party designation and may not include a write-in space for the office.
"13-14-111. Application of general laws. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, candidates for nonpartisan offices, including judicial offices other than an office of the supreme court or a judge of the district court, must be nominated and elected according to the provisions of this title."
"13-14-118. Vacancies among nominees after nomination and before general election. (1) If after the primary election and before the 85th day before the general election a candidate is not able to run for the office for any reason, the vacancy must be filled by the candidate next in rank in number of votes received in the primary election.
(2) If a vacancy for a nonpartisan nomination cannot be filled as provided in subsection (1) and the vacancy occurs no later than 85 days before the general election, a 10-day period for accepting declarations for nomination or statements of candidacy and nominating petitions for the office must be declared by:
(4) If the vacancy occurs later than 85 days before the general election and a qualified individual is not elected to the office at the general election, the office is vacant and must be filled as provided by law."
"13-14-211. Judicial County judicial offices separate and independent offices for election purposes. (1) Each vacancy for justice of the supreme court is a separate and independent office for election purposes. The chief justice of the supreme court shall assign an individual number to the justices and certify these numbers to the office of the secretary of state.
"13-14-212. Form of ballot on retention of certain incumbent judicial officers justice of the peace or municipal court judge. (1) If the incumbent is the only candidate for the office of chief justice, supreme court justice, district court judge, or justice of the peace or municipal court judge, the election administrator may not include a nonpartisan designation or write-in space for the office on the general election ballot. The name of the incumbent must be placed on the official ballot for the general election as follows:
NEW SECTION. Section 11. Codification instruction. [Section 4 5] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 13, chapter 12, part 2, and the provisions of Title 13, chapter 12, part 2, apply to [section 4 5].
NEW SECTION. Section 12. Saving clause. [This act] does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, or proceedings that were begun before [the effective date of this act].
NEW SECTION. Section 13. Applicability. [This act] applies to elections for an office of the supreme court and for a judge of the district court occurring on or after [the effective date of this act].
New language in a bill appears underlined, deleted material appears stricken.
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See the status of this bill for the bill's primary sponsor.
Prepared by Montana Legislative Services