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 Rules of Practice - Updated Jan. 2020  The Rules of Practice, Forms and Orders for the Montana Fourth Judicial District Court for Missoula and Mineral Counties.

Department 1

Hon. Leslie Halligan

 Picture of Honorable Leslie Halligan

Gov. Steve Bullock appointed Hon. Leslie Halligan as a new interim judge to the Fourth Judicial District Court to replace Judge Ed McLean, who retired on April 30.

Halligan serves as the new judge that will preside over cases in Missoula and Mineral counties.

Since 2012, Halligan has been one of the standing masters of district court, presiding over cases referred to her by McLean and district court judge Karen Townsend that related to domestic relations, family law and parenting plans, as well as some of those involving intervention in neglect and abuse of children.

Department 2

Hon. Robert L. Deschamps, III

 Judge Robert L Deschamps III


BA, University of Montana, 1966; JD, University of Montana, 1970.

Appointed District Judge in Montana 4th Judicial District Department 2 in July 2006; elected to consecutive six year terms, 2006, 2012.

Deputy Missoula County Attorney 1970

Missoula County Attorney, 1971-1998. (elected to seven consecutive four year terms)

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Montana, 1982-1998.

Chief Prosecutor, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, 1999-2006.

Special Prosecutor for 18 Montana jurisdictions, 1999-2006.

Part-time private general practice of law, 1970-1976; 1999-2006

Professional organization offices held:

President of the National District Attorneys Association for 1994-1995. (Board

member, 1982-2006)

President of the Montana County Attorneys Association for 1974-1975

President of the Western Montana Bar Association for 1979-1980.

Chair, Montana Supreme Court Commission on Rules of Criminal Procedure,  1980-1992

Montana Bar Association, Montana liaison to the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section, 1988-1994

American Bar Association, council member for the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division, 1986-1994

 Trustee, of the National College of District Attorneys, 1994-1998

Chairman , board of directors, American Prosecutors’ Research Institute, 1995-1996. (Board member, 1993-1998)

District attorney representative on the national Executive Working Group, comprised of the Attorney General of the United States, four district attorneys and four state attorneys general. 1993-1997

Member, Montana Supreme Court District Court Council, 2010 to present.

Civic and Community activities:

Service on a variety of state and local committees and boards, including a term on the Montana Board of Crime Control, the Montana Criminal Justice Standards and Goals Advisory Council, the Montana Law Enforcement Academy, the Missoula City-County Gambling Commission, and various federal, state, local and tribal working committees.  

Family info:

Married September 18, 1965 to wife Rebecca (Becky) H. Deschamps. (B.S.; R.Ph.) and together have four adult children:  Krystin, Mikal; Robert IV, Jean-Marc and 11 grandchildren: six boys and five girls. 


Department 3

Hon. John W. Larson







District Judge John W. Larson has served the Montana state trial bench since 1993.  In 1996 he established Montana’s first drug treatment court.  This Court has served as a model for other similar courts around the country.   

 Judge Larson has been an active member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), serving two terms on its National Board of Trustees.  He has also served as President of the Montana Judge’s Association.  Judge Larson has served on the Board of Directors of the Montana Legal Services since 2000.

Judge Larson received national recognition for Judge of the Year for the National Court Appoint Special Advocate (CASA) Program. On June 2, 2003, Judge Larson shared the Harold E. Hughes Exceptional Service Award with Judge Glade F. Roper of Tulare County, California, as an exceptional rural professional from the National Rural Institute on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.   He has taught courses to Judges, treatment providers, social workers, and probation officers from around the country. In October 2006, the Montana Board of Crime Control recognized Judge Larson’s vision and leadership in Juvenile Justice.  In January 2009, he received the groundbreaker award from the Missoula Habitat for Humanity Program based on his efforts to involve youth in Habitat’s construction projects. In September 2011, he received the Karla M. Gray Equal Justice Award from the Montana Bar Association.  He shared the award with Judge Kurt Krueger of Butte. 


Department 4

Hon. Jason Marks

Photo of Judge Jason Marks 


Gov. Steven Bullock appointed Hon. Jason Marks as judge to the Fourth Judicial District, Department 4, to replace Judge Karen S. Townsend who retired Aug. 2019. In addition to presiding over regular cases in Missoula and Mineral Counties, Judge Marks also presides over the Veteran’s Treatment Court and Co-Occurring Treatment in Missoula County.

Judge Marks was born and raised in Missoula. He received his J.D. from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA in 2005. After returning to Missoula he served in both the Public Defender’s Office and the Missoula County Attorney’s Office. He was recognized as the Public Servant of the Year in 2009 by the Missoula Family Violence Counsel for his work on domestic violence cases. He was promoted in 2012 to supervise the prosecution of sexual assault and domestic violence cases in the Missoula County Attorney’s Office. In 2015 he was appointed to Chief Deputy County Attorney where he supervised both the criminal and civil divisions of the Missoula County Attorney’s Office until he was appointed to the bench by Gov. Bullock.

On a more personal level, Judge Marks is married and has three children that he feels lucky to be able to raise in the community where he grew up. He is an active member of the Missoula Kiwanis organization and has been a regular guest lecturer at the University of Montana Law School.

Department 5

Hon. Shane A Vannatta

Picture of Judge Shane Vannatta 


 On February 5, 2019, Governor Steve Bullock appointed the Hon. Shane A. Vannatta as district court judge to the newly-created Department 5 of the Fourth Judicial District. Judge Vannatta took the oath of office on February 22, 2019, and was unanimously confirmed by the Montana State Senate on March 8, 2019. Judge Vannatta will stand for election to his position in 2020.

Prior to assuming the bench, Judge Vannatta practiced law for 25+ years with the law firm of Worden Thane P.C. His legal practice focused principally in business law, and included advice for copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, employment, business acquisitions, real property, and contract drafting. He maintained both a transactional and litigation practice.

Judge Vannatta graduated in 1993 from The University of Montana Law School (J.D. with Honors). He served as President of the State Bar of Montana (September 2011-2012), and currently serves as the ABA Delegate from the State Bar of Montana, and on various ABA committees and commissions.

As a private practitioner, Judge Vannatta was recognized on numerous peer-reviewed lists, including Mountain States Super Lawyers®, Best Lawyers in America®, and Martindale-Hubbell. He was recognized in 2019 & 2016 as “Lawyer of the Year” for work in Corporate Law in Missoula, MT, and in 2014 as “Lawyer of the Year” for work in Litigation - Labor & Employment in Missoula, MT.

Standing Master

Amy Rubin

Amy Rubin 2




Amy Rubin was recently appointed Standing Master for the 4th Judicial District Court.  She will work primarily with family law cases, for Judge Townsend and Judge Halligan.  Prior to this appointment, Amy was a partner in a private law firm, and worked with non-profit agencies providing legal representation under Violence Against Women Act grants through the US Department of Justice.  She has received the Crime Victim Advocate of the Year award, as well as the Missoula Family Violence Council Pro Bono Attorney of the Year award.  Amy received her undergraduate degree from Colorado College and is a 1989 graduate of the University of Montana School of Law.   In her spare time she enjoys horses, and playing ice hockey with her family. She is active in a number of community organizations.