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Two people are already vying for the vacant seat on the Montana Supreme Court and the latest contender is sure to provide even more competition.
District Judge Laurie McKinnon, who was named judge of the year in 2010, has announced that she’s joining the race to take retiring Justice James Nelson’s seat, reports the Missoulian. She’ll face off with Elizabeth Best, a private-practice lawyer, and Ed Sheehym, a public defender.
McKinnon became a district court judge in 2007 after ten years as a prosecutor in county attorneys' offices and another 10 years as a criminal defense attorney, according to the paper. She is also on the District Court Performance Measurement Advisory Committee to the Montana Supreme Court, the Judicial Education Committee and is a member of the District Drug Court Judges. Last year, she reportedly landed a $350,000 grant from the U.S. Justice Department to implement a drug court in her four-county jurisdiction. Drug courts offer treatment rather than incarceration for non-violent offenders.
While running for the state's highest court, McKinnon will also be working on getting her master's and doctorate degrees in judicial studies from the University of Nevada and the National Judicial College in Reno, respectively, reports the Missoulian.