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Justice Jim Rice said the decision to announce his candidacy on Jan. 6 — anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump — wasn't accidental.
For the second time in three months, a judge has ruled against the way the Republican-majority Legislature used investigative subpoenas to access to judicial records earlier this year.
In their order on Tuesday, the state Supreme Court wrote its July ruling did not foreclose discussions between the branches and only examined the question of legislative subpoena power.
Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Mike McMahon did, however, leave the door open for the Legislature to obtain the sought-after dismissal.
"The history of this litigation has given us reason to be skeptical of the representations by the Legislature and its counsel in this matter," the Supreme Court wrote in an order Tuesday.
Lawmakers also said withdrawing the subpoenas meant the litigation over the Legislature's subpoena power likewise ended Tuesday.
Justice Jim Shea authored the opinion Thursday, writing neither the state Constitution nor its framers' recorded intent required an independent commission to screen judicial applicants.
A District Court judge wrote he would have to be "blind" to not see that the Legislature's recent subpoena for a Supreme Court justice's records is not a legislative effort.
Montana Supreme Court Justice Jim Rice, right, takes the witness stand as Judge Mike McMahon watches in the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse in May.
The state's Republican Attorney General called it an "obvious conflict of interest" for the Supreme Court to preside over the case.