National Forum On Judicial Accountability

Hi all.  I'd like to get your comments and input on how we should progress, here in Montana, with preparing, writing and submitting a bill to pass legislation that will remove self-disciplined commissions from within our government.  Our judiciary oversight, frankly, is nothing but cronyism and a farce to put it bluntly.  We have what is known as a "Judicial Standards Commission" that oversees and reviews cases of greviences/complaints against judges.  It is a 5 member panel. It consists of 2 judges, an attorney and 2 at large citizens (probably all friends with the judges.  A district court judge chairs the commission.  This clearly is a violation of the 10th amendment.  When there are clear legal and ethical violations by a judge, nothing is ever done.  It's time to legislate citizens panels into these oversight committees at all levels and departments of government.


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Enactment of NFOJA's proposed Citizens Panel On Judicial Misconduct Act would require an amendment of the state constitution in Montana.

  • First, we need to assess the likelihood that one or more Montana state legislators would endeavor to and actually pass a corresponding amendment within a reasonable time frame;

  • Alternatively, an effort can be made to pass the measure by citizen initiative.  Numbers to estimate the corresponding signature requirement will be shared in the Montana for NFOJA subgroup.  Here is the relevant provision -- 

    Montana Constitution- Article XIV- Constitutional Revision (mostly as in text)

    Section 9. Amendment by initiative:

    (1) the people may propose constitutional amendments by initiative petitions to include full text of the proposed amendment and shall be signed by at least ten percent of qualified electors in at least one half of the counties

    (2) then the amendment shall be published as provided by law at least twice each month for two months previous to the next state wide election

    (3) at that election, the proposed amendment shall be submitted to the qualified electors for approval or election. If approved by the majority voting thereon, it shall become part of the constitution effective the first day of July following its approval, unless the amendment provides otherwise. 

  • There is also Section 8 amendment by legislative referendum with a proposal by 2/3 number of all legislators and submitted to qualified electorate at next general election.
So the amendment is by legislative referendum which needs 2/3 vote of the House and then 2/3 of the Senate in 2021, or else a ballot initiative this fall (only 8 months away) by getting 10% of the registered voters in half the counties?

Exactly!  And an estimate of the number of registered voters in the 23 smallest counties is shared @

Yup, I printed that off.  So the approach would be to go to the smaller counties, first, to get signatures?  

Yes!  And Montana is a perfect test state because of its many sparsely populated counties!

So what are the possibilities/probability we can get it on the ballot this fall?

Pose that question to the members of our private sub-group Montana for NFOJA.


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