In what may be the shortest response in litigation so far that has burned through reams of paper, Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin and her attorney responded to the Legislature and Attorney General’s quest to have the Montana Supreme Court reconsider having all justices recuse themselves in a case that tests the limits of a legislative subpoena.
Last week, the Attorney General’s office, led by Lieutenant Attorney General Kristen Hansen, petitioned the court to reconsider its original decision not to recuse any members of the high court from looking at the merits of a legislative subpoena to disclose all emails from the court’s top administrator. Hansen and the state argued the justices had not properly taken into account what Hansen argues is the apparent conflict of interest, namely that McLaughlin is a part of the court system and works with the justices. That argument was beaten back by a strongly worded unanimous opinion of the court, written by Justice Laurie McKinnon.
A motion to reconsider allows a response by McLaughlin and her attorney, Randy Cox of Boone Karlberg in Missoula, filed Friday, coming in at just 267 words.
“Just as ‘The Legislature’s unilateral attempt to manufacture a conflict by issuing subpoenas to the entire Montana Supreme Court must be seen for what it is,’” Cox writes, quoting the Supreme Court ruling in which it declined to recuse itself, “the petition for rehearing, too, must be seen for what it is – an improper retread of previous arguments squarely and unanimously rejected.”
Citing court procedural rules, Cox pointed out that a petition for rehearing is not “a forum in which to rehash arguments,” and he said the Attorney General’s second attempt fell short of what the law requires, “clearly demonstrated exceptional circumstances.”
“The petition merely disagrees with the Court’s rationale and takes a new swing with the same bat,” the brief concludes.