The Montana Supreme Court has denied the Montana Legislature’s effort to disqualify the Supreme Court Justices, stating that ‘were the Court to succumb to the Legislature’s request and evade our responsibilities and 16 obligations as a Court, we are convinced that public confidence in our integrity, honesty, leadership, and ability to function as the highest court of this State would be compromised.’

State Senator Greg Hertz (R) Polson, responded to the court’s decision.

“The court today seems to be twisting itself in knots in this ruling.,” said Hertz. “The court claims that it doesn't have a conflict of interest and the justices don't need to disqualify themselves while at the same time they're saying every judge has a conflict of interest in the cases and that where all the judges are disqualified, none are disqualified.”

Hertz went on to question the authority of the court to make such a ruling.

“The court acknowledges that its employee, the court administrator, routinely deleted public record emails which she had previously admitted to the legislature,” he said. “But her attorney however claims that not a single email has been lost. The court also wrote that no justices are parties to any litigation about the legislature's subpoena power, even though most of the justices have already ruled to quash their own subpoenas.”

Hertz further criticized the Montana Supreme Court and its actions.

“The justices also hint that their ruling in this case will set a precedent for resolving their own subpoenas,” he said. “The legislature continues to investigate the deletion of public records, improper use of state resources, prejudging matters that could come before the courts, and other potential judicial misconduct. The Montana Supreme Court can't seem to keep its story straight, and continues to sink itself into a deeper and deeper conflict of interest.”

Hertz is chair of the Select Committee on Judicial Accountability and Transparency in the Montana Legislature.

 

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