The council of commissioners on Wednesday appointed longtime Butte attorney Dan Sweeney to serve as interim city court judge.
Sweeney bested 39 others who applied for the position vacated in December by Steve Kambich, who faces a felony bribery charge in federal court.
Commissioners chose Sweeney
following two days of interviews at the courthouse, even working through a power outage Tuesday evening.
Sweeney was among a handful
of candidates who answered
interview questions in a dimly lit courthouse hallway.
“He was one of the top ones through my selection process,” said Commissioner Wally Frasz. “His interview went really well, even though it was in the dimness of
Sweeney received seven votes Wednesday during the first round of voting with each commissioner chosing his or her top two picks.
Each commissioner then selected one candidate during a second tally and Sweeney received six votes, the majority needed to clinch the seat.
Dominique Endy received two votes while Shannen Rossmiller, Cynthia Cohan and Bradley Custer received one vote each.
Council Chairman Dave Palmer said selecting an interim judge from the wide field of candidates was difficult.
He encouraged all the candidates to consider a run for the seat in the November election so Butte citizens can choose a permanent replacement.
Sweeney plans to run for the job, which pays $66,023 per year, and will begin serving this week as the city’s interim judge.
District Judge Kurt Krueger will likely swear in Sweeney on Thursday, Clerk and Recorder Sally Hollis said.
Sweeney said he’ll seek to restore integrity to the office and welcomed audits and other safegaurds to assure that misdeeds that allegedly occurred under Kambich’s watch aren’t repeated.
Kambich plans to plead guilty to a felony bribery charge for taking cash for dismissing traffic and other misdemeanor tickets, according to documents filed in Butte federal court.
Commissioners anticipate that Sweeney will make a fast transition into the interim job after serving some 20 years as a substitute judge in city court and both justice courts.
Sweeney has worked as an attorney since 1976 and is the sole lawyer in a private practice, which he will all but resolve.
He plans to continue working on a limited basis during his own time with another attorney on federal bankruptcy cases, which the Montana Bar Association doesn’t consider a conflict, Sweeney said.
Sweeney assured commissioners the other attorney would appear in court for those bankruptcy proceedings and that the work won’t interfere with his job as Butte city judge.
He said he’s ready to begin the new job immediately, and that he’ll listen to both sides in every case before making decisions.
“I’m honored by the experience and honored by the opportunity to act as a judge for the people of Butte-Silver Bow,” Sweeney said.