On Friday, May 10, 2024, the Daily Montanan reported that Governor Greg Gianforte had appointed John Mercer to replace Judge Deborah Kim Christopher in Montana’s Twentieth Judicial District Court, which covers Lake and Sanders counties.

Judge Christopher had resigned from her position earlier this year after 24 years on the bench following actions taken by the Montana Supreme Court related to a child custody case and a formal complaint brought by the Judicial Standards Commission regarding repeatedly missing work. Chief Justice Mike McGrath had notified Governor Gianforte of the vacancy on March 21st, following Judge Christopher’s retirement on April 6th.

The governor began searching for Judge Christopher’s replacement on March 25th, with the application period closing on April 8th. The 30-day public comment period regarding applicants ended on May 9th. John Mercer’s application emphasized his 42 years of experience as an attorney in Polson and his background running a local real estate management company.

Mercer, a lifelong resident of Polson, obtained his law degree from Northwestern University following graduating from the University of Montana. In his application, he asserted that his extensive legal experience would help the transition until a newly elected judge takes over the position in 2025. Mercer also expressed that he could help work through any existing backlogs, benefiting current litigants as well as the incoming long-term judge.

Governor Gianforte announced Mercer’s appointment to replace Judge Christopher on May 10th, commending Mercer as an “accomplished attorney distinguished by his extensive legal experience and commitment to his community.”



Source: Daily Montanan