Russ McElyea has reapplied for the position of chief water judge for the Montana Water Court.

Public comment is now open on Judge McElyea’s re-appointment. The application may be viewed through a link available at

Information/water-judge-vacancy .

Comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

The Montana Water Court, located in Bozeman, was created by the 1979 Montana Legislature.

The court has exclusive jurisdiction over the adjudication of all water rights claims in Montana.

The chief water judge is appointed by the chief justice of the Montana Supreme Court. This judgeship is not subject to general election. Public comment regarding the applicant is an extremely important part of the appointment process, especially given that Montanans do not have an opportunity to vote on the chief judge position.

Public comment can be submitted via e-mail or by paper submission. These comments, which become part of the applicant’s file, will be posted on the Judicial Branch web page and forwarded to Chief Justice Mike McGrath. Public comment may be submitted to:

Water Court Judge Public Comment

c/o Beth McLaughlin

Office of Court Administrator

P.O. Box 203005

Helena, MT 59620-3005

After reviewing the application and public comment, Judge McElyea’s name will be forwarded to the chief justice for consideration for reappointment. If reappointed, Judge McElyea is subject to Senate confirmation during the 2023 legislative session. He will serve a four-year term if confirmed.

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