U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy to take "Senior status"

Senior status Reduces Judge Molloy’s caseload

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy of Montana has announced that he will take “Senior status”.

District Judge Molloy to step aside – Wyoming Tribune

“Senior status” means retirement from active service. Senior judges continue to hear cases, usually with a reduced case load. The announcement, however, said Molloy intends to maintain a “substantial” case load.

It also frees him to sit, by invitation, on the circuit court.

Judge Molloy’s stepping down from his seat will open a vacancy in the Montana federal district court.  Vacancies are filled by appointment from the president, almost always selected by the highest politically ranked congressperson of the president’s party from the state in which the vacancy occurs.





  1. jon Avatar

    This guy got bashed wvery hard by the anti wolf advocates. I seen some say impeach him and throw him in jail for his crimes against wildlife and some other nonsense. I think the anti wolf advocates will be happy with this news.

  2. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    Perhaps Obama will appoint someone who is more liberal than Molloy, but getting confirmation will be another issue.


  3. Ken Cole Avatar

    That leaves Max Baucus to choose his replacement. Not a good sign.

  4. Mike Avatar

    This guy has been a massive firewall for years for the good guys.

    1. Phil Avatar

      Mike: Who are the good guys?

    2. James Mars Avatar
      James Mars

      Mike: What in the world do you mean when you say a person is a “fireball”?

    3. WM Avatar

      It has less to do with being a “firewall for the good guys” and more to do with a smart and careful judge doing his job.

      Molloy is a good legal mind, who is not swayed by emotions from either side, and writes tight opinions based on his careful interpretation of the law. At least as far as his enviornmental cases go (and they are only a part of his case load that covers a wide range of topics), he has gained enough experience over the years to understand the framework and the big picture. He probably has very carefully selected and insightful law clerks who help with his opinions (another indicator of a good judge). And, I suspect, he wants to be deliberate and not leave a legacy of mistakes, which makes me applaud his decision to allow the first wolf hunting season to go forward in ID and MT. Furthermore, if you read his opinions carefully he does give clues to where he is going, as he did in the opinion on Defenders request for declaratory relief in the impending wolf hunt in ID and MT.

      He is a smart judge dealing with difficult issues. Don’t be surprised, however, if/when the NRM wolf case starts up after some resolution of the DPS issue, he allows delisting to go forward based on the successful biology of the recovery. He will now have more assurance through the recently released vonHoldt study that there is genetic connectivity, AND after a hunting season, that wolf numbers can be managed through carefully thought out harvests and lethal control actions as to allow for recovery to meet ESA requirements.

      The question I would have, is whether he would ever get into the numbers game and say how many is enough (above the FWS recovery plan minimums of 100/300) and how many is too many (from the respective states’ perspective). He or some other MT federal judge (WY too) may have to if no legislative solution is reached.

      Maybe with senior judge status he can give more time and dedication to thinking some of this stuff through.

  5. James Mars Avatar
    James Mars

    My mistake. I read that as “fireball” twice when you wrote “firewall”.

    Okay. Molloy has been a “massive firewall for years for the good guys”. Does that mean mean he _helps_ the good guys by preventing fire (bad things) from troubling them?
    Or does that mean Molloy _hinders_ good guys by preventing their fire (actions) from having any effect?

    I have no idea what you are trying to say, Mike. Can you elaborate? Preferably with an example?

  6. JimT Avatar

    Hopefully, he will keep the current cases in his workload. I can’t wait to see who Baucus nominates…god help us..

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Brian Ertz