Newly appointed 8th Judicial District Judge David Grubich. Credit: Courtesy of David Grubich

A spokesperson for Gov. Greg Gianforte announced today that the governor has selected David Grubich to fill a vacancy on the 8th Judicial District Court in Cascade County. Grubich is the first Montana judge to be appointed following passage of Senate Bill 140, which eliminated the Judicial Nomination Committee that previously reviewed applicants to fill court vacancies that occur between election cycles and recommended candidates to the governor. 

Grubich graduated from the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana and worked in private practice before serving as the Standing Master of the 8th Judicial District Court located in Great Falls. According to his LinkedIn profile, he served on the board of the Cascade County Law Clinic, a nonprofit that provides legal services to low-income clients, from 2012 to 2018. Prior to earning an undergraduate degree in philosophy from UM, he served on the Harvard, Illinois, police force. 

“David Grubich is an accomplished attorney committed to the fair, consistent, and objective application of the law,” Gianforte said in a statement about the appointment. “Given his experience and knowledge as Standing Master in the Eighth Judicial District and the overwhelming, positive public comment about David that I received, I’m confident he will make an exceptional judge and serve the people of Cascade County well.”

Gianforte assembled an advisory council of local lawyers, educators, youth advocates and law enforcement officials in Cascade County to help identify and review qualified candidates. Grubich was one of two leading applicants for the position. The other was former Democratic lawmaker Michele Reinhart Levine, who occupied the 8th District bench as former Gov. Steve Bullock’s nominee until the state Senate declined to confirm her this spring the first time the Senate has declined to confirm a gubernatorial nomination in Montana.

Grubich emerged as the advisory council’s top pick during deliberations at its June 30 meeting in Great Falls, with Levine identified as a close second. Community members and former colleagues of both candidates submitted dozens of letters in support of their applications. 

Grubich is expected to start the job quickly. He will have to win election in 2022 to maintain the seat.

In a statement about Grubich’s appointment, Levine said, “Congrats to Dave Grubich on being picked. I worked well with Dave when I was a District Court Judge and now as a prosecutor.” 

She also said she plans to run for the position in 2022.

“Like all of the citizens who stood up for me, I believe in fairness and independence for our judiciary, for all Montanans, and I am not about to stop fighting for those things,” her statement said. “Our state cannot afford to let our independent judiciary be politicized. Our constitution puts the ultimate decision in the hands of the voters. I will keep seeking the support of the voters of Cascade County.” 

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Billings native Amanda Eggert covers environmental issues for MTFP. Amanda is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism who has written for Outside magazine and Outlaw Partners. At Outlaw Partners she led coverage for the biweekly newspaper Explore Big Sky. Contact Amanda at aeggert@montanafreepress.org.