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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Lawmakers release report detailing claims of judicial misconduct

A special committee of Montana lawmakers released a draft report Thursday detailing concerns that members of the judicial branch deleted public records and fell short of ethics rules. Republicans created the committee in April 2021 during a separation-of-powers conflict with the Montana Supreme Court.

The report identifies ethics concerns in nine categories, including judges improperly weighing in on bills not before the court, the deletion of public records and a lack of transparency from the judiciary’s oversight commission

Supreme Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin had not yet reviewed the report as of Thursday afternoon and had no comment. McLaughlin was at the center of a legal battle over judicial records last year.

The draft report lists possible actions the Legislature could take in the upcoming session to remedy the perceived issues, but notes they are “for consideration only,” and aren’t necessarily endorsed by the committee or individual lawmakers. The Legislature’s Special Select Committee on Judicial Accountability and Transparency will meet Thursday, December 22, to take public comment and finalize its report.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

He is best reached by emailing
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