BALLOT LANGUAGE FOR CONSTITUTIONAL INITIATIVE NO. 98

CI-98

A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PROPOSED BY INITIATIVE PETITION

Montana statutes currently provide for the recall of public officials, including state court justices or judges, for physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of the oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of a felony offense.  This measure amends the Montana Constitution to provide for recall by petition of state court justices or judges for any reason.  It is effective upon approval.

[ ]  FOR amending the Montana Constitution to provide for recall by petition of state court justices or judges for any reason.

[ ]  AGAINST amending the Montana Constitution to provide for recall by petition of state court justices or judges for any reason.

THE COMPLETE TEXT OF CONSTITUTIONAL INITIATIVE NO. 98
(CI-98)

BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:

Section 1. Article VII is amended to read:

NEW SECTION. [Section 12]. (1)This amendment shall subject to recall each elected justice or judge of thestate or its political subdivisions including a justice or judge appointed toan elected judicial office.

(2) A petition for recall may be filed by up tothree qualified electors serving as chief petitioners. The chief petitionersshall:

(a) provide a justification statement, notexceeding 200 words, declaring the reasons for the recall;

(b) circulate the petition in an approved form;and

(c) file the signed petitions with theappropriate election administrator for verification and certification.

(3) No petition for recall may be filed soonerthan 60 days following the time the justice or judge takes office.

(4) The sufficiency of the justificationstatement required under subsection (2) is a political question answered solelyby the qualified electors participating in the recall election and no judicialrecall petition shall otherwise be subject to judicial inquiry or review. Thejustification statement is sufficient if it sets forth any reason acknowledgingelectoral dissatisfaction with a justice or judge notwithstanding good faithattempts to perform the duties of the office.

            (5) Notwithstandingthe review protections granted under subsection (3) a petitioner or petitionersproviding a justification statement shall not be shielded from responsibilityfor any untrue statements contained in the justification statement.

            (6) Prior tocirculation, a recall petition shall be approved as to form.  The appropriateelections officer is the officer who is provided by law to accept thedeclaration of nomination or petition for nomination for such office. Ajudicial recall petition shall be examined for form and shall be approved ordenied for circulation within three business days. A petition shall be approvedas to form if it contains a justification statement and includes a circulationsheet that includes signer information categories sufficient to identifyqualified electors signing the petition.

            (7) Signedcirculation sheets containing the required number of signatures shall besubmitted to the officer responsible for registration of electors in the countyin which the signatures were obtained within 3 months of the time the petitionwas approved. The required number of signatures shall serve as prima facieevidence of a completed recall that is qualified for election. The requirednumber of signatures shall be:

            (a) for an office ofjustice or judge subject to statewide election, at least 10% of the number ofvotes cast in the previous election to fill that office; or

            (b) for any otheroffice of a justice or judge, at least 15% of the number of votes cast in theprevious election to fill that judicial office.

            (8) The county clerk in each countyin which a judicial recall petition is submitted shall have up to 15 businessdays to examine the filed signatures and determine whether invalid signatures,if any, exist in such number so as to render the filing incomplete. A recallpetition meeting prima facie filing requirements shall not be determinedincomplete unless a sufficient number of invalid signatures is identified. Theclerk shall certify such to the appropriate elections officer with whom the recallpetition is to be filed.

            (9) In the case of a statewideelection the secretary of state shall have 10 days to tabulate certifiedsignatures from the county; and in the case of districts which are notstatewide districts the appropriate election officer or officers shall have 5days to tabulate certified signatures.

            (10) Aspecial election shall be held on the question of recall within 75 days of thefiling of a complete recall petition; however, if an election is alreadyscheduled for that electoral district within 90 days of filing, the question ofrecall may be included in such election. The call for a special election shallbe made by the governor in the case of an office subject to statewide electionor by the official(s) authorized to  call a special election for a politicalsubdivision in the case of all other offices.

            (11) If ajustice or judge prevailed in a recall vote once during a term of office, thelegislature may require the posting of a bond by any subsequent chiefpetitioners in an amount sufficient to offset the government cost of asubsequent unsuccessful recall election during that term of office.

            (12) All otherprocedural statutory recall provisions not inconsistent with the design of thisamendment may be provided by law.  This amendment is self-executing and shallsupplant any inconsistent statutory recall provisions. This amendment providesa method of removing justices and judges in addition to Article VII, section11, and does not exist as a substitute for Article VII, section 11.

            NEW SECTION. Section2. Severability. If part of this amendment is invalid all valid partsremain in effect. If part of this amendment is invalid in one or more of itsapplications, the part remains in effect in all valid applications that areseverable from the invalid applications.

            NEW SECTION.Section 3. Saving clause. This amendment does not affect rights and dutiesthat matured, penalties that were incurred, or proceedings that were begunbefore the effective date of this amendment.

            NEW SECTION. Section 4. Effectivedate. This amendment is effective upon approval by the electorate.

Montana Secretary of State – Corey Stapleton
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