Response To Recent Activity In The Miles city Star
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Posted by Hanson (+2647) one month ago
After reading the September 13th front page Star article on James Brown, who is running for the Montana Supreme Court against Justice Ingrid Gustafson, as well as a recent Star political ad and letter to the editor by Beth Hinebauch supporting Brown, I’m compelled to respond to several misconceptions or false premises. I’ll start with Hinebauch. She doesn’t get it. She states “they (judges) don’t even run as conservative or liberal.” Montana’s Constitution and Courts were not established to benefit one ideology over another.

Brown touts, as part of his legal experience, being ‘President’ of the Montana Public Service Commission. In the early seventies when I was General Counsel (now Chief Counsel) to the Commission, our Commission ran smoothly, like a well-oiled machine. Now under chairperson Brown it is mired in scandal, intrigue and ineptitude. The financial records of the PSC are so problematic that the State couldn't even conduct an audit of its books. Further, the State paid $175,000 dollars to settle a wrongful termination PSC case. None of this speaks well of Brown's leadership--or, how about, the lack thereof?

In Brown’s interview he states he considered running for the Supreme Court due to his 15 years of legal practice experience. My question is what experience is he speaking about? According to Martindale Hubbard (available on the internet), Brown, even though having practiced in Montana for more than 15 years, has no rating at all. Martindale Hubbard, is the only valid rating system for lawyers because it is honest peer opinion of both judges and lawyers about practicing lawyers. It’s not surprising that he has no rating since Brown has sparse and insignificant appearances before the Montana Supreme Court and there is nothing indicating his ever having tried a significant case. Brown has not established himself as either a significant advocate or a legal scholar. He is not qualified to occupy a seat on our Court.

Another concern is Martindale Hubbard rates lawyers on ethics, as well as skills. The Montana Code of Judicial Conduct, requires “that a judicial candidate shall not “seek, accept, or use endorsements from a political organization * *.” The Code further requires judicial candidates act to ensure that other persons do not undertake any such activities on their behalf. Montanans should be alarmed, but not surprised, that Brown’s campaign for Supreme Court continues to lend itself to the appearance of being ethically challenged. The recent political ad in the Star, by six politicians, shows Brown being complacent with endorsements from politicians and political groups. Further, Brown, as a lobbyist, advocated against access for regular Montanans to our public lands.

Montana Supreme Court Justice Ingrid Gustafson is not a politician. In the thousands of cases she has heard and decided in the District and Supreme Court in her twenty plus years as a judge, her top priority has been upholding the Montana Constitution, fairly and impartially, always putting our rights first, and politics last. Vote for Justice Gustafson.
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+14
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Posted by Robert Martelle (+998) one month ago
I agree with your assessment. In addition, the letter in the Star insinuated that Justice Gustafson had only gained her position by "appointment by a democratic governor". Yes, she was appointed in 2017, BUT was elected to continue as Justice in 2018. (Some people do not understand the process. Many judges are appointed to the bench either through retirement or death of the previous sitting judge.)

Another issue that concerns me are the numerous ads in the media supporting James Brown. There was one in last night's Star (10/06/22). This quarter page ad in full color was paid for by the Montana Republican State Central Committee. Derek Skees, Treasurer. Mr. Skees has said on record “The courts have humongously (sic) failed and we need to throw out Montana’s socialist rag of a constitution.” So now he is supporting a "constitutionalist judicial candidate"?

Also, Brown is endorse by Steve Daines, Greg Gianforte, Austin Knudsen, Matt Rosendale, and the Montana Republican Party. These individuals only want the Montana Supreme Court to reflect the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court. I definitely know that Ingrid Gustafson has my vote based on this alone.
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+11
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Posted by Hanson (+2647) one month ago
Not to beat a dead horse, but is anyone else fed up with politicians continually spouting ca ca about being a 3rd or 4th generation Montanan like James Brown, the politician running against Justice Ingrid Gustafson? Any such distinction is irrelevant when considering qualifications for the position he seeks. However, continually spouting such ca ca like Brown does, it amounts to disingenuous window-dressing masking his lack of qualifications. Brown was not even born in Montana. He was born on the east coast. Vote to keep Justice Ingrid Gustafson on our Supreme Court. She is genuine, fair and qualified.
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