Clay Herbst - Judge

Office Hours: 8 am to 12 pm and 1 pm to 4:30 pm
Phone: 406-222-4170


Administrative Staff:  Valerie Utley, Maryann Eisenstein

Court appearances: are on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:00 a.m. SHARP. Check In starts at 8:30 AM. Appearances are for
misdemeanors: Sheriff Department citations, Highway Patrol citations, Fish, Wildlife & Parks citations, GVW citations, and Criminal Complaints 
Felonies: Initial appearances on all of the above. Appearances for defendants in the Detention Center may be held at times other than 9AM on days that are not regular appearance days. 
Civil Complaints UP TO $15,000 and Small Claims up to $7000 are filed in Justice Court. 

Law and Motion will start at 10:30 AM on certain Mondays. 

Zoom meetings are available for defendants who do not reside in Montana upon request and approval from Judge Cantin.  Written requests can be emailed to

If you were in a crash and have received a citation, Judge Cantin requires a personal appearance in court.  If you have any questions, please call 406-222-4170.

More court Information Information

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Online Payments:

For a small fee online payments are available through the following website:  Please note that not all citations qualify for online payments.  When entering your citation number, please enter the portion of your citation number as shown below, with no spaces or punctuation.  Click below to see examples for Highway Patrol citation example C028579 and Park County Sheriff or Fish and Game example A187642:

Highway Patrol

Park County Sheriff - Fish and Game


Difference between Civil and Criminal Cases

Criminal and civil cases may be heard by a judge or a jury. If a trial is by judge, there is no jury and the judge makes the decision based on the testimony and evidence presented.

Criminal: In a criminal case a person called the defendant is charged with a violation of the law. The attorney representing the state or local government is called the prosecutor or County Attorney. In criminal cases the judge will inform the jury about the law, and the jury must decide if the defendant has broken that law. Criminal verdicts in Montana must be unanimous. In criminal cases, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. Prior to the criminal trial, the defendant will have appeared before the judge to plead guilty or not guilty to the criminal charges. This hearing before the judge is called an arraignment.

Civil: Civil cases involve disputes (usually about money) which the parties haven't been able to solve between themselves, and have turned to the court system to resolve. The person bringing the complaint in a civil suit is called the plaintiff. The one defending him or herself against the complaint is the defendant. Defendant must reside in Montana. In a civil case, the jury is asked to determine which side is favored by the preponderance of evidence. Civil jury decisions can be made by a two-thirds majority of jurors. A unanimous verdict is not required, as it is in a criminal trial. Justice Court has a monetary limitation of $15,000. If the amount in dispute is more than $15,000 the case must be filed in District Court.

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