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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Bill to give lawmakers more control over the Judicial Standards Commission advances

U.S. District Court of Montana Divisions
State Law Library of Montana
U.S. District Court of Montana Divisions

A bill that would give power to the state’s top political figures to appoint members of a disciplinary board overseeing the judiciary has advanced in the Montana Legislature.

Republican Rep. Kerri Seekins-Crowe of Billings is carrying House Bill 326 to change the appointment process for the Judicial Standards Commission, which fields complaints against judges.

As it stands now, two members of the commission are district court judges elected by other judges and one attorney is appointed by the Montana Supreme Court. The bill would give those appointments to the Speaker of the House and the Attorney General — positions currently held by Republicans.

Supporters say the legislation would eliminate conflicts of interest that may arise with judges overseeing their peers. Opponents say it would hurt the independence of the judiciary and inject politics into a nonpartisan branch.

The bill will likely move onto the state Senate for consideration after a third House vote.

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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