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Paul G. Hatfield

paul g hatfield courthouse
Paul Gerhart Hatfield April 29, 1928 – July 3, 2000 was an American politician and a member of the Democratic Party He served briefly as United States Senator from Montana in 1978, and was later a United States federal judge


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links

Early lifeedit

Born in Great Falls, Montana, he attended the College of Great Falls now University of Great Falls and served in the United States Army, Signal Corps, 181st Signal Depot Company, from 1951 to 1953 He received an LLB from University of Montana Law School, Missoula, Montana in 1955, and was admitted to the Montana bar that same year, commencing his practice in Great Falls


He was chief deputy county attorney for Cascade County from 1959 to 1960 and served as judge of the Eighth Judicial District from 1961 to 1976 He was elected Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court in the 1976 general election, defeating long-time Associate Justice Wesley Castles with a vote of 199,536 675% to 95,947 325%, taking office in January 1977 He served until he was appointed to the US Senate on January 22, 1978

On January 22, 1978, Montana Governor Thomas Lee Judge appointed Hatfield to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Lee Metcalf for the term ending January 3, 1979 He served from January 22, 1978, until his resignation December 14, 1978 He was defeated for renomination in the Democratic primary in June 1978 by Congressman Max Baucus with Baucus getting 87,085 votes 653% to Hatfield's 25,789 193% There were two other minor candidates in the race After that nominating defeat, Hatfield remained in the Senate until his own resignation when the election of his successor, Baucus, was officially certified after the general election in November 1978

Max Baucus praised his former primary opponent for being "one of the most decent and thoughtful people I've had the privilege of knowing"1

After he left the US Senate, on March 15, 1979, Hatfield was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Montana vacated by Russell E Smith Hatfield was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 9, 1979, and received his commission the following day He served as chief judge from 1990 to 1996, assuming senior status on February 9, 1996, and continuing to serve until the end of his life Hatfield was a resident of Great Falls, Montana from 1979 until his death on July 3, 20002 He is buried in Riverside Memorial Park in Spokane, Washington3

Hatfield was highly regarded as a courageous US Senatorcitation needed whose primary election defeat in 1978 is widely regarded as a consequence of his unpopular, but principled and decisive vote in favor of the 1977 Panama Canal Treaty and as the most outstanding jurist in Montana history He died in Great Falls, Montana The Paul G Hatfield Courthouse in Helena, Montana is named in his honor


  1. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang July 5, 2000 "Paul Hatfield, 72, Whose Vote On Panama Canal Was Decisive" New York Times Retrieved October 13, 2014 
  2. ^ Guide to the Paul G Hatfield Papers at the University of Montana
  3. ^ Political Graveyard

External linksedit

  • United States Congress "Paul G Hatfield id: H000344" Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 
  • Paul Gerhart Hatfield at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center
US Senate
Preceded by
Lee Metcalf
US Senator Class 2 from Montana
Served alongside: John Melcher
Succeeded by
Max Baucus
Legal offices
Preceded by
Russell Evans Smith
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Montana
Succeeded by
Donald W Molloy

paul g hatfield courthouse

Paul G. Hatfield Information about

Paul G. Hatfield

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