TEA Party Justice Says Punishment for Judge Who Blamed 14-year-old for own rape too harsh

A TEA Party justice on the Montana Supreme Court says that public censure and a month suspension for  Montana judge who said a 14-year-old rape victim appeared “older than her chronological age” is too harsh a penalty.

The Montana Supreme Court last week ordered Judge G. Todd Baugh be publicly censured, as the Judicial Standards Commission had recommended.  They also gave him a 31-day suspension without pay for his misconduct.

All the justices agreed except one.  The Montana Growth Network backed justice Laurie McKinnon thought censure AND a suspension was too harsh.

The Montana Supreme Court ruled that censure wasn’t enough because:

“There is no place in the Montana judiciary for perpetuating the stereotype that women and girls are responsible for sexual crimes committed against them.”

Yet Laurie McKinnon penned a dissent longer than the original ruling.  McKinnon objected to the harsher sentence the Montana Supreme Court handed down.

It was revealed last month by Michael Beckel for the Center for Public Integrity  in a story that Lee Newspapers ran statewide, McKinnon raised only $42,000 for her own campaign, but Montana Growth Network, ran by disgraced Sen. Jason Priest (R-TEA Red Lodge) and Rep. Ed Walker (R-TEA Exxon Mobil), spent over $690,000 on the race (and some attack mailers against any Republicans Priest and Walker thought might support health care for working poor using federal government funds from taxes Montanans are already paying.)

Ed Walker is running the legislative campaign effort for the Montana GOP.

Jason Priest is not running for re-election as he faces charges for parter and family member assault, although it is not known what involvement he still has in the dark money movement. His trial is set for August 12.


13 Comments on "TEA Party Justice Says Punishment for Judge Who Blamed 14-year-old for own rape too harsh"

  1. 31 days – that’s tough. Hard to imagine what one of these judges would do if they had to spend 31 days in jail. Probably leave the country.

    So who’s looking forward to political mailings with “Paid for by Jason Priest” on there? Any campaigns lining up for that endorsement?

    Can you donate to political campaigns from prison? I guess you should enjoy it, Priest – your voting days are about done.

  2. Maybe McKinnon – a real ‘piece of work’ elected by Priest – will put strings
    for her benefactor’s hundreds of thousands which was used to savage honorable and competent Beth Best……poetic justice for the ‘High Priest’ I hope.

  3. Now I know why McKinnon was supported by a bunch of judges. They knew she didn’t care what they did, ethical or otherwise. When is she up for re-election?

  4. Does anyone have a link to McKinnon’s dissent? I, for one, would like to know on what legal grounds she thinks that the MTSC has to abide by the Judicial Standards Commission *recommendation*.

    Never mind, I just didn’t read to the end of the ruling.

  5. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | June 9, 2014 12:15 PM at 12:15 PM |

    It’s Time, Time magazine that is. Just got my copy, and there’s a big article on Schweitzer. Looks like he’s gonna run for prez. Me, personally, I think that’s a good thing, a very good thing. Check it out. June 16th edition.

  6. Justice McKinnon’s dissent is not a brief for Judge Baugh. She does not defend his conduct or disagree that he deserves censure. Her dissent express her belief that the Supreme Court lacks a proper standard of review for such matters, and that the Supreme Court should have adopted without modification the recommendation of the commission that considered the complaints against Judge Baugh. I believe that Justice McKinnon’s dissent is an attempt to establish standards of review for future cases of this nature.

    • To a large degree, I agree with you. James. However, she does attempt two things not in legal precedent. 1) She argues from the position that the MTSC voided the recommendation of the JSC. They did not, nor does she establish that they have. They went beyond the recommendation, and she establishes herself their right to do so. 2) She begins with the claim that the Court undercuts public confidence by doing what the public clearly demanded in punitively censuring Baugh. You really can’t have it both ways. Baugh admitted to offending public trust with his comments, and the Court reacted as they are allowed to do to restore public confidence in the judiciary. She then argues that censure cannot be punitive without a full review of context and circumstance by the court, but the court had at it’s disposal the full review by the JSC. It reads to me that she is arguing that the will of the Court must inspire public confidence, unless they don’t fully review what is already in evidence that a Judge hurt public confidence, and somehow that lack of review hurts public confidence. Does that seem right to you? Popular opinion of the law shouldn’t dictate judicial sentencing anymore than it should demand consequence of judicial review, yet McKinnon thinks the latter matters here and the former does not. I’m just not buying her argument.

      Still, two things are clear. 1) Her dissent doesn’t matter for crap, except to those who wish to make political points against her. 2) Her TEApeep support has no real bearing here, and this post is little more than agitation for no real purpose until McKinnon runs for reelection.

      • She’s working to establish herself as the court’s Great Dissenter, and as the principal, and principled, reformer of the court. She’s running for chief justice. She’s using this case as a soapbox, and her dissent should be considered a campaign speech. In that sense, it does matter.

    • I am an attorney and a flaming liberal.

      McKinnon writes the best opinions on the Court. She is far more concerned about precedent than any of the so-called liberals, and her opinions are far less “results oriented” than the majority of opinions written by the other justices.

      The Cowgirl obviously knows absolutely nothing about the Montana Supreme Court, as evidenced by the fact that she recently claimed that Beth Baker is a TEA partier.

      Just because a justice writes an opinion you don’t agree with politically doesn’t mean the justice is wrong. If justices only wrote opinions that were in line with their supposed ideological viewpoint, then the Montana Supreme Court would look a lot more like the U.S. Supreme Court. Thankfully, we aren’t there yet.

  7. Thanks for your appraisal of Judge Mcinnon and her affiliation with Priest.

  8. Anybody who thinks that 31 days was enough is loathsome and repulsive. Using a dissent to set a precedent, my ass. The Supremes have been censuring lawyers for a long time, albeit just not nearly enough of that “bunch”.

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