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Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat retiring

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Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat
HELENA -

Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat plans to retire at the end of this year, creating a vacancy on the seven-member high court.

Gov. Steve Bullock’s office confirmed Thursday that Wheat has announced that he’ll leave the court – and that the Democratic governor will be appointing Wheat’s successor.

Wheat, 69, was elected to an eight-year term on the high court in 2014. He was appointed to the court by then-Gov. Brian Schweitzer in 2009, and then ran for a full term.

Wheat defeated Lawrence VanDyke in the 2014 election, in a contest marked by big spending by outside groups both for and against each candidate. Conservative and business groups spent money trying to defeat Wheat, while groups funded by trial attorneys, organized labor and other left-leaning groups opposed VanDyke.

Wheat, a longtime Bozeman attorney and former Democratic state senator, is considered a member of the high court’s liberal wing.  

Bullock will choose a successor to Wheat from a list of finalists chosen by the Judicial Nomination Commission. The commission chooses the finalists from whoever wishes to apply for the post.

If confirmed by the state Senate, Wheat’s successor will fill out the remainder of his term before he or she must run for re-election.

About Mike Dennison

MTN Chief Political Reporter Mike Dennison joined MTN News in August 2015 after a 23-year career as a newspaper reporter covering Montana politics and state government. While some may believe that politics are boring, Mike firmly believes that's not the case if you tell the story with pizzazz and let people know why the story is important.
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