Jim's Story

Jim's Story

GeeksforGeeks logoJim was born in 1957 to U.S. Military parents stationed at Ramore Air Force Base, near Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada. He grew up in eastern Montana, graduating from Glasgow High School in 1975. Obtaining his pilot’s license at age 17, Jim worked at aviation-related positions while he attended college, including work as a firefighter on a helitak quick response team for the Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation. He graduated from Montana State University with a B.A. in Political Science in 1979, and from the University of Montana School of Law in 1982. He completed legal internships at the offices of the Missoula City Attorney and Lewis and Clark County Attorney. For four years, Jim worked as a public defender in Lewis and Clark County. Jim was elected to the Montana House of Representatives, representing East Helena and the Helena Valley, in 1988, 1990, and 1992, and was selected as House Majority Whip in the 1993 session. As a legislator, Jim worked to provide funding for work programs for the disabled and for community infrastructure improvements. He was instrumental in improving the budgeting process by coordinating passage of the first revenue estimate resolution to guide spending decisions. Jim was awarded the Thomas McHugh Community Service Award by the Helena Jaycees in 1993. Jim left the Legislature in 1995 and was appointed as Chairman of the Board of Personnel Appeals, the quasi-judicial body that resolves labor and collective bargaining disputes, where he served for five years. Jim was a partner in the law firm of Jackson & Rice of Helena, Montana, from 1985 to 2001. He represented individuals and small businesses, and donated his services as counsel for the Montana Hope Project, a charity founded by Highway Patrol Officers to provide support and grant “wishes” to severely or terminally ill children. On March 15, 2001, he was appointed by Gov. Judy Martz as a justice of the Montana Supreme Court and was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the State Senate. Jim won election to the Court in 2002, 2006 and 2014. Jim is married to Norine Nelson from Hinsdale, Montana, and they have three daughters and nine grandchildren.