Montana Public Radio

Montana Republicans Plan For Ongoing Investigation Of The Judiciary

Apr 28, 2021

As the 2021 legislative session winds down, Montana Republican lawmakers are putting the pieces in place to ensure they can continue their investigation into the judicial branch.

Republican lawmakers are planning to spend $285,000 over the next two years to fund a special committee investigating alleged bias and misconduct among judges and state Supreme Court Justices. Republicans amended legislative rules to allow the committee to hire a special counsel to aid in their investigation. 

Democrats continue to denounce the investigation, saying it’s an attack on separation of powers and meant to undermine the judiciary. Montana Supreme Court justices have also refuted the claims of bias and misconduct. 

The committee released a draft report Wednesday on the investigation’s findings so far. It details emails exchanged between Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin and various judges discussing legislation, how justices responded to lawmakers’ questions and how the judicial branch lobbies during legislative sessions. 

The report also outlines recommended next steps, like having the Select Committee on Judicial Transparency and Accountability continue its work through the interim to produce a report for the next legislative session. 

The select committee will go over the report during a Thursday morning meeting.