Judge Kim Wanker ("Wahn-ker," the Times notes) travels her mostly rural district once a month on a highway that "is a straight line into the desert's nothingness, where cows begrudgingly relinquish their spots on the hot asphalt," Glionna writes. She is "one of a dwindling number of judges who still wander the West's wide-open spaces." Most of Montana's 56 counties are served by traveling judges; budget cuts threaten the practice in Wyoming, which may force litigants to come to the judges, not the other way around.
Wanker's 5th District covers just Nye, Mineral and Esmeralda counties, but that's 25,000 square miles, an area larger than West Virginia. Most of the district's 50,000 people live in one town, leaving an average of just 3 people per square mile for the rest of the district.