Retired judges hearing cases pro bono due to budget cuts
Oct. 24, 2017
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — At least two retired judges have agreed to oversee Montana court cases without being paid.
The Missoulian reports former Judge James Wheelis is going to oversee two double-murder cases in Missoula along with another case there while former Judge Richard Simonton has been asked to oversee dozens of cases in the 7th Judicial District in eastern Montana.
Court administrator Beth McLaughlin says legislative cuts to the court's operating budget led to the pay elimination for retired judges, beginning July 1. In each of the past two fiscal years, the court has paid about $164,000 to retired judges to relieve overburdened districts.
Wheelis has agreed to oversee a double-homicide case against Caressa Hardy in Missoula along with a drug-related double murder involving defendants Tiffanie Rae Pierce and Augustus Standingrock.
The judges can decline the cases.