Judge Holly Brown

District Judge Holly Brown listens to a defendant in a trail Feb. 4 at the Law and Justice Center.

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The first woman to serve as a district judge in Gallatin County announced Wednesday that she is retiring.

In a letter to the Gallatin County Bar Association, Judge Holly Brown said she would retire this fall.

She wants to spend more time with her family, Brown wrote in the letter, adding the decision was a difficult one to make. She also made clear her decision had nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic.

“While the timing has been more complicated with the various directives related to COVID-19, I want to assure you that all is well, and my decision is not related to the pandemic in any way,” Brown said.

Former Gov. Judy Martz appointed Brown to the bench in 2004 to replace Judge Mark Guenther after he died of cancer.

Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court Mike McGrath will initiate the selection for Brown’s successor by advertising the position for 30 days. There will be a subsequent 30 days for public comment on the candidates.

A judicial commission will then review applications and interview candidates before providing a list of names to Gov. Steve Bullock. The governor then has 30 days to select a candidate from the list.

The person selected to fill the vacancy would take office within 30 days of the appointment but would need to be confirmed by the Montana Senate during the 2021 Legislature.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of former Gov. Judy Martz's name. 

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Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2630.

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