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Op-ed: Gallatin County commissioners introduce new district court judge

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Gallatin County Commissioners, from left to right, are Scott MacFarlane, Zach Brown, and Joe Skinner. PHOTO COURTESY OF GALLATIN COUNTY

GALLATIN COUNTY COMMISSION

With the ringing in of the New Year, we have much to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to in 2022 in Gallatin County!

One of the things we are most grateful for is our newest judge, Andrew Breuner, who has joined the ranks as our fourth District Court judge in Gallatin County.

With a growing population, our three District Courts—which handle the most serious of our citizens’ issues—have been handling rapidly increasing caseloads for years. With more cases on their plates, our three judges have been working to the best of their abilities to get cases adjudicated in a timely fashion. But there are only so many hours in a day and cases, especially our civil ones, have unfortunately been taking longer to resolve. No one wants to spend additional time in the court system if they can help it.

Thankfully, the 2021 Montana Legislature recognized this issue and awarded us a fourth District Court judge to help tackle our county’s every-increasing caseloads. This is the first time since 2005 we have added a District Court judge in our county. It is a big deal.

Gov. Greg Gianforte recently appointed Belgrade Municipal Court Judge Andrew Breuner to become our county’s fourth judge and he was sworn in on Jan. 3.

We greatly look forward to working with Judge Breuner and congratulate him on his appointment to continue serving our citizens.

With our additional judge comes the need for additional space, which leads us to the second thing we are most grateful for this year.

We are so very appreciative of the Gallatin County voters who approved the bond to replace our aging Law and Justice Center, which houses our county’s District and Justice courts, with a new courts facility that will serve our citizens for decades to come.

We do not take asking taxpayers for money lightly, but this was a dire need that we are so happy to finally be able to tackle in the coming years.

The county will likely break ground on the new courts facility this summer and the building will take a couple years to complete. After the new building is constructed, operations will be transitioned over then the Law and Justice Center will be demolished.

This new building will have an additional District Court courtroom for our newest judge, and space for additional judges we may be awarded by the state in the years to come.

In the meantime, we will make room in our current facility for Judge Breuner and his staff among our other judges. They have all graciously agreed to be flexible working within the confines of our current building until more adequate space is available, something we greatly appreciate.

Again, we are excited for the future of our county’s court system and look forward to sharing more updates as we progress with the new courts facility.

Wishing you a happy and healthy start to 2022! Thank you, taxpayers, for partnering with us as we strive to make strategic investments in Gallatin County’s future. It is an honor to work for you, and with you, as we collectively look to the future!

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