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Jan 6, 2014 5:02 PM by Q2 News

Baugh to retire, won't file for re-election

BILLINGS - Yellowstone County District Court Judge G. Todd Baugh said Monday he will retire at the end of this year.

Baugh said he will not file to retain the seat he's held since he was first sworn in as a District Court judge in January 1985.

In making the announcement, Baugh said he hopes it will encourage a full slate of candidates to seek the job he has held for nearly 30 years.

"If you care about people and are willing to work hard, this is a reward position," Baugh said. "There might be a few attorneys that would be well-suited to be a judge who won't run unless they know I'm not running, so that's the reason I'm announcing at this time."

Only one person has so far announced their intention to seek Baugh's job. On Dec. 27, Deputy County Attorney Corbit Harrington said he will file for the judge position.

Baugh said his decision to not seek re-election is unrelated to the recent controversy involving former Senior High teacher Stacey Rambold. Baugh came under criticism last year when he ordered Rambold to serve 15 years, with all but 31 days suspended, for the rape of a 14-year-old student who later committed suicide.

A complaint is pending before the state Judicial Standards Commission, and Baugh recently admitted to the commission that he violated the judicial ethics code in the case.

"If the Rambold thing was the only factor, I wouldn't retire for that," Baugh said Monday during an exclusive interview with Q2. "I'm 72-years-old, I guess I can retire."

Baugh was first elected in 1984 and is completing his fifth, six-year term as a District Court judge.

The work of a judge has increased, Baugh said, since he first took office. District Court judges in Yellowstone County carry a heavy case load. Until a new judge developes "some efficiency, they're going to be swamped."

Baugh's decision creates a second vacancy in the judicial district with six sitting judges. Susan Watters was recently sworn in as the first female U.S. District Court judge. Her position will be filled through an appointment by Gov. Steve Bullock.

Baugh said his retirement will "allow me to spend a little more time with my grandchild and friends, and maybe even get in a few more rounds of golf. God willing, I won't drive (wife) Linda crazy."

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