Q and A with Judge Michael Montero

By Jolyn Garcia Posted May 30, 2012

Michael Montero was born and raised in Winnemucca. After graduating from Lowry High School he moved to Topeka, Kansas to attend law school at Washburn University. He later moved to Reno, Nevada to practice law as an attorney. Michael Montero has been the District Court Judge for three years.

Q: When did you decide to become a judge?

A: I decided to become a judge in early 2008. It wasn’t a long-term goal of mine. When I learned that the current judge in Winnemucca wasn’t going to run again, I decided it was a good time for me to move here and try to be elected as judge.

Q: What did you want to be before you decided to become a judge?

A: Well I was an attorney before I became a judge because in Nevada to be a district court judge, you have to be an attorney for ten years. I can say that I wanted to be an attorney for as long as I can remember.

Q: Why an attorney?

A: I always believed that attorneys had the opportunities to make a difference and I liked that idea. Not just a difference with people but with the way that our country is shaped. I also liked to talk and I liked to debate, so I liked the idea of what I believed a lawyer was when I was young. My father was also a significant person in my life and he always told me I was going to be a lawyer. So it was a combination of what I thought a lawyer was and what my father wanted me to be. And it worked out; it wasn’t like something I was forced to be.

Q: How difficult is it being a District Judge?

A: It is a tough job because you have to make a lot of decisions that affect people’s lives; some of them in very drastic ways. For example, I deal with cases that involve the custody of children. It might be decisions that I have to make where would it be better for a child to live with mom or dad or someone else. Those are really tough decisions to make. There are a lot of decisions that you think about a lot; both before and after making them.

Q: What is your favorite part about this job?

A: The people and being in court. At this district court level of being a judge, I get to meet the people, the good and the bad. I get to spend time with the lawyers and those who provide services in the community. I also like being able to make decisions.

Q: What is your least favorite part?

A: Tough decisions. So it also could be some of the best part of this job and the worst part. Sometimes when you have to take children away from parents, those are probably the least favorite part of the job.

Q: Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking of becoming a judge?

A: Oh wow lots of advice! One thing is you have to be an attorney first, to be a district judge. I would encourage any person to get some exposure to it. I would highly recommend they come in and see what happens in the courtroom. I think that most people don’t understand what we really do as judges. If you’re interested in being a lawyer or ultimately becoming a judge I think it would be very important to come into the courtroom and watch. Look for opportunities where you can be more involved, look for internships.