Former state Judge Susan Watters has been sworn in as Montana's first female U.S. District Court judge.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy swore in the 55-year-old Billings native in a Thursday ceremony at the federal courthouse attended by several dozen friends, colleagues and family members.
Watters worked in private practice and as a prosecutor before becoming a state judge 15 years ago.
She fills a vacancy on the federal bench created with the retirement of U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull.
Other federal judges had been forced to travel to Billings to fill the gap. Molloy welcomed Watters as a "remarkably excellent" judge who was sorely needed to help handle the court's workload.
Watters says she has already begun reviewing cases.