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Hummel appointed justice of the peace

by Lynnette Hintze / Daily Inter Lake
| November 17, 2016 7:45 PM

Longtime Kalispell attorney and substitute judge Eric Hummel has been appointed Flathead County justice of the peace. He will take office Jan. 1.

The county commissioners unanimously chose Hummel on Tuesday. They interviewed Hummel and former law enforcement officer Garrett Nelson last month for the position being vacated by Dan Wilson. Wilson is replacing Flathead District Judge David Ortley, who did not run for re-election.

“I’m committed to timely and fair decisions for the people of Flathead County,” Hummel told the commissioners.

Hummel has 20 years of experience as an attorney, including time as a clerk with the Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court and as a prosecutor for the Flathead County Attorney’s Office. He also has been a private attorney and contract public defender, as well as a substitute judge for Kalispell Municipal Court.

Hummel ran for the Department 2 Justice of the Peace position in 2010 but lost in the primary election.

A Billings native, Hummel completed his undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Montana in 1993. He graduated from the UM School of Law in 1996. While in law school, Hummel worked for a local district judge, providing research assistance.

He began his legal career as a law clerk at the Montana Supreme Court in Helena. He moved to the Flathead in 1998 and served as a Flathead Deputy County Attorney until 2001. As a prosecutor, Hummel handled approximately 1,700 misdemeanors and felony cases, including traffic violations, cases involving domestic violence, DUIs, fish and game offenses, theft and burglary.

Since 2001 Hummel has worked in the private practice of law, going to court and advising individuals, small businesses and associations on a wide variety of matters, including evictions, contract disputes, emancipations, DUIs, real property, and covenant disputes.

During his interview with the commissioners, Hummel told them he reads every Montana Supreme Court decision that is issued and has served more than 300 hours as a substitute judge.

Justice Court, over which Hummel will preside, deals with citations issued by Montana Highway Patrol, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. It also has jurisdiction over airport parking tickets, Department of Transportation and county Animal Control tickets, criminal charges filed by the County Attorney’s office and civil and small claims matters.

Flathead County has two justice of the peace positions; Mark R. Sullivan is the second justice of the peace.