By Jim Nelson,
Montana Supreme Court Justice (Ret.)
Montana Supreme Court candidate Kristen Juras has accused Candidate Dirk Sandefur of violating Montana’s Code of Judicial Conduct. Since I helped write it, I know bit about this Code. It covers not only sitting judges and justices, but also candidates for judicial office.
Candidate Juras has accused Judge Sandefur of violating a subsection of Rule 4.1 regarding campaign activities. What she fails to disclose, however, is that she, herself, is violating another subsection of the same Rule.
Specifically, Judge Sandefur has been targeted with T.V. spots and mailers accusing him of improperly sentencing criminals and being soft on crime. These media attacks are produced solely to misinform and inflame voters with false and misleading statements and innuendo. These “Willy Horton” ads are sponsored by out-of-state dark money jackals who want to buy a justice on to the Supreme Court.
Now, part of Rule 4.1 provides that: “ . . . when an independent third party has made false attacks on a candidate’s opponent, the candidate should disavow the attacks, and request the third party to cease and desist.”
That means that Candidate Juras is required to disavow the false attacks on Judge Sandefur and to request her third party dark money supporters to cease and desist. If she has done so, it has not been reported.
At a minimum, in the interest of intellectual honesty, one should not accuse her opponent of violating the Code of Ethics, when she is violating it herself.