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Laying a Foundation for the Future of Montana's Judiciary: A Study of Court Finance and Administration

NCJ Number
S S Heffelfinger
Date Published
142 pages
This report presents the recommendations of the Montana Judicial Unification and Finance Commission following its examination of court unification, court finance, judicial selection, and other matters related to the efficient operation of the Montana judiciary.
The commission was established by the 53rd Legislature. The commission based its findings and recommendations on eight meetings that received testimony from key interested persons; a problem identification survey of county commissioners, district court judges, magistrates, and clerks of district courts; a panel discussion with national and State experts; a public hearing; and its own deliberations. The first chapter of the report explains why and how the study was conducted. Four chapters provide background information relevant to the study, and four chapters provide further detail on each recommendation and present the key issues, objectives, testimony, research, and relevant commission discussion and action. Although the commission stopped short of recommending a unified and State-funded court system, the commission's key recommendations are designed to address an immediate fiscal crisis that faces some counties that are struggling to fund their district courts, to improve judicial administration and information management, and to provide a framework for a long-range planning process within the judiciary. Recommendations pertain to court funding, court administration, court information and technology, and juvenile justice. 117 notes and appended relevant bill drafts