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Letters to the editor Jan. 21

| January 21, 2024 12:00 AM

Certifications

Our Montana code has about 75 occupations where if one wants, they can go to the state and take an exam. When they pass the exam they can then be qualified by the state to do business under their certification.  

These certifications are essentially under the jurisdiction of the state Legislature.

Not so with becoming an attorney. To get that certification, one has to first graduate from an “approved by an American Bar Association” college or school. Then and only then can one take their Montana State Bar exam from the Montana State Bar Association. Not from the state, like other certifications, but from the Montana State Bar itself.  

This Montana State Bar exam is under the jurisdiction of our state courts instead of our state Legislature, as are the other certifications.

This is a classic monopoly. It is non-competitive and designed to limit those who can be “authorized” to practice law within our state. I know of several folks that would take and likely pass an open, available to anyone, exam.

The problem has a further implication than what I have described. If one wants elected as a judge one must first be an attorney. Are judges then part of the attorney good ole boy club?  Think about that for a moment! Then ask yourself: Are we part of a government subject to the people, or are we a people subject to the government?

A 12-year-old home schooler from Red Lodge has proposed a constitutional initiative (CI-124) to move the Montana State Bar away from our courts and put it under the jurisdiction of our Legislature. We all need to sign this initiative.

— Russell Sias, Columbia Falls

Endorsement for Wilson

As retired Montana judges, we join to endorse Judge Dan Wilson of Flathead County in his bid for election to the Montana Supreme Court.

This year, Montanans will elect two new justices to our state’s highest court. Chief Justice Mike McGrath and Associate Justice Dirk Sandefer have announced their retirements at the end of 2024. Judge Wilson is running for the associate justice position.

We have the unique perspective as retired members of Montana’s judiciary to have observed Judge Wilson’s years of work as a District Court judge. We find that he possesses the experience and background, judicial demeanor and work ethic, and a singular devotion to the Constitution and rule of law to make him a stalwart member of our Supreme Court.

We hope you will join us in supporting Judge Dan Wilson for the Montana Supreme Court.

— Russell C. Fagg, District Court judge for the Montana 13th Judicial District (retired); Ed McLean, District Court judge for the Montana 4th Judicial District (retired); Karen Townsend, District Court judge for the Montana 4th Judicial District (retired); John Warner, District Court judge for the Montana 12th Judicial District (Retired) and Associate Justice of the Montana Supreme Court (retired)