Montana Plaintiff Wins Free Speech Lawsuit, Plans to Use Results to Unseat Judge
This week, former U.S. Senate Candidate Dan Cox won a victory in federal court on a free speech issue. Cox’s attorney Matthew Monforton said the lawsuit started after Cox complained to the Montana Judicial Standards Commission about the behavior of a Hamilton judge.
"Immediately after the Judicial Standards Commission dismissed my client's complaint against this judge, they also sent him a letter saying 'Don't ever tell anyone that you filed a complaint against this judge. If you do, we will seek to hold you in contempt and put you in jail,'" Monforton said.
After a decision by U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen, Cox and Monforton are now free to describe the incident that Cox says he witnessed in District Judge Jeffrey Langton’s courtroom.
"Dan did observe issues with Judge Langton engaging in what is called an ex parte proceeding meaning speaking with and dealing with one side in a dispute without telling the other side about it," he said. "It's almost in all circumstances highly improper and unethical."
Now, Cox plans on using his complaint to unseat Langton.
"Now that the Judicial Commission knows that his work is going to be closely scrutinized, we're hoping that some of these complaints will be taken more seriously," Monforton said. "As far as the local impact, Mr. Cox does intend to seek a recall election against Judge Langton and that's one of the main reasons he wanted to publish that complaint."
The story won’t end here. The lawsuit was filed as a class action so other citizens with similar warnings from the Montana Judicial Standards Commission can join in. Monfortons says he has already received calls from two new plaintiffs on the matter.