law and justice

The Law and Justice Center is pictured on Tuesday, Aug. 3.

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Belgrade City Judge Andrew Breuner will be the fourth Gallatin County district court judge.

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Wednesday morning that Breuner is his selection to fill the new, vacant fourth district judge seat in the Eighteenth Judicial District in Gallatin County.

“Andrew Breuner is a talented attorney who will make an exceptional judge in the Eighteenth Judicial District,” Gianforte said in a Wednesday morning news release announcing the appointment. “He is committed to the fair, consistent, and objective application of the law, and I’m confident he’ll serve Gallatin County well by interpreting laws, not making them from the bench.”

Breuner said he was informed he had been selected for the position by Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras on Tuesday, a day before Gianforte announced the appointment to the public.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “I am also sad to be leaving Belgrade because I really love this community and the people at the city are my friends … it’s bittersweet.”

Breuner has served as the municipal judge for Belgrade City Court since 2015.

Prior to that role, he had his own private practice. He was admitted to the California bar in 1993 and spent about a decade practicing law in California and teaching as an adjunct instructor at Santa Clara University, where he received his law degree.

Breuner moved to Montana in 2002. In addition to serving as city judge in Belgrade, he has served as a defense attorney for a DUI Accountability Court in Beaverhead County and teaches a pre-law course as an adjunct professor at Montana State University.

Breuner will be sworn in to the position on or before Jan. 3, 2022. To keep the seat, he will still need to run in the general election in the fall of 2022, which he says he plans to do.

“Judges are in the human dignity business. That’s what I say,” Breuner said. “To me, the foremost thing is that parties, attorneys, staff, the way that cases are adjudicated, are honoring of human dignity.”

The Federal Election Commission does not have any record of Breuner donating money to Greg Gianforte or any other politician since moving to Montana in 2002.

Breuner visited Montana long before moving here with his father, who’s a passionate fly fisherman. In the early 1980s his father purchased a property south of Big Sky, and Breuner said from then on, he was a “regular visitor” to Montana to ski and enjoy the outdoors.

Gianforte’s office considered three other people for the appointment: Audrey Schultz Cromwell, a managing partner at Cromwell Law and substitute judge in Bozeman’s municipal and justice courts; Martin Lambert, the longtime Gallatin County Attorney who prosecuted Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault in 2017; and Benjamin Refling, an attorney with the Office of the State Public Defender.

Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

This article originally ran on bozemandailychronicle.com.

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