Election Guide '22

The candidates and issues on Montana's 2022 ballot

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Bill D'Alton
2022 candidate for Montana Supreme Court (Seat 1)

Bill D'Alton

Billings attorney
None available
Active candidates in race

D’Alton, 59, is a Billings-based attorney who has practiced law in Montana for more than 20 years. He represents both plaintiffs and defendants at D’Alton Law Firm P.C. According to his professional website, D’Alton has tried jury cases in several types of Montana courts. He has also appealed cases before the Montana Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

D’Alton has said that, if elected, he plans to serve only one eight-year term, which he says will help him maintain independence as a jurist.

D’Alton earned his law degree from the University of Montana and was admitted to the State Bar of Montana in 1995.

This biography is based on campaign materials and interviews with D’Alton.

MTFP coverage

Reporting on this candidate published by the Montana Free Press newsroom.
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Campaign finance

Campaign finance reporting for this race is done through Montana's Commissioner of Political Practices. That data can be accessed through the COPP's Campaign Electronic Reporting System Dashboard.

On the issues

The material shown below was solicted from candidates via a written questionnaire in September and October 2022. Responses were limited to 1,000 characters and edited lightly for punctuation and spelling. Responses have not been exhaustively fact-checked. Send questions to Eric Dietrich at edietrich@montanafreepress.org.
What type of law have you focused on in your career? Please describe your experience in criminal and civil law, including but not limited to constitutional law, American Indian law, dependency and neglect cases and treatment courts.
Bill D'Alton:

I started my legal career as a public defender in Yellowstone County, representing Montanans charged with minor to very serious offenses. Since 1998, I have been in private practice. I opened my law firm in 2008. Over the years, I have represented Native Americans, ranchers, farmers, workers, employers, veterans, and small-business owners. I have especially enjoyed protecting the civil rights and civil liberties of Montanans. I am an experienced trial attorney. I have represented clients before juries in state and federal courts. I have appeared before the Montana Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Do you consider Montana’s court system overburdened by cases? If so, why? What are your proposed solutions for improving how Montana's courts function?
Bill D'Alton:

Yes, especially in Yellowstone, Missoula, and Gallatin Counties. One of the problems I have noticed is people are stuck in the criminal justice system. Judges imposing fines or ordering treatment paid by the Defendant makes little practical sense when it is obvious the person is financially incapable. Releasing an inmate after significant incarceration with little community support or supervision increases recidivism. In the criminal justice system, a substantial number of defendants have chemical dependency problems and/or mental health issues. The State’s support programs are inadequate, underfunded, and poorly operated. The judiciary could take a more active role in these programs to help address chemical dependency and mental health issues.

According to the most recent data analyzed by the Prison Policy Initiative, Montana’s incarceration rate in prisons, jails, immigration facilities and juvenile facilities is higher than the national average. Native American, Black and Latino people are also disproportionately represented in Montana’s jails and prisons. Do these trends represent a problem in Montana’s judicial system? What, if any, role should the judiciary play in remedying this?
Bill D'Alton:

This is a problem in all judicial systems, including Montana’s. Congress passed sentencing guidelines in the late 1980s to correct just some of these issues. Native Americans, African Americans, and Latinos still received disproportionate sentences under the sentencing guidelines. The best way to correct this is to have a more diverse judicial system. Furthermore, the Judicial Standards Commission should conduct an annual audit of sentences to determine if sentences are disproportionate to certain races.

The Montana Constitution includes rights that often need to be balanced against one another in litigation, such as the right to privacy and the right to know. Please describe one such balancing test used by the Montana Supreme Court and explain, in your opinion, the fairness of that balancing test when applied to the law.
Bill D'Alton:

I believe the people of Montana have a right to know how public officials conduct the people’s business. Article II, Section 9 of the Montana Constitution mandates the public has the right to examine documents or to observe the deliberations of public bodies, including the judiciary, except when the needs of individual privacy clearly exceed the merits of public disclosure. Time and again the Montana Supreme Court has balanced the public’s right to know against the government’s right to not disclose the information. In my opinion, the Montana Supreme Court has balanced the interest of nondisclosure over that of the public’s right to know. Nondisclosure of public documents should be limited to health care records, juvenile issues, and ongoing criminal investigations.

Montana’s judiciary and judicial rulings have been under heightened scrutiny in recent years as bills passed by the Legislature come under legal challenge. As a justice, what would you do to help engender trust in and respect for Montana’s judicial system?
Bill D'Alton:

I would encourage the workings of Montana’s judicial system to be open to public observation. The Montana Supreme Court could stream its internal debate on issues the public is concerned about as a whole. In my opinion, this process would strengthen the trust and respect for the Montana Judicial System.

Election results

June 7 nonpartisan primary vote
Count reported by Montana secretary of state as of 7/19/22
Nov. 8 General election vote
Count reported by Montana secretary of state as of 11/14/22




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