Judge Andersen Accuses County Officials of Politically Motivated Investigation
In the midst of a tough political campaign, Missoula Justice of the Peace Marie Andersen is accusing members of Missoula County government with orchestrating an investigation in an attempt to have her removed from office. An investigation into Andersen’s court happened over the past year and the findings were released in July. Andersen says the timing is suspicious and she believes the constitutional separation of the branches of power are at stake.
"It kicked in after the primary," Andersen said. "What you are seeing on a larger scale is a constitutional issue separation of powers. You have the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch. I am in the Judicial Branch and the Board of County Commissioners are in the Executive Branch. We are on the same track in terms of being governmental branches, but we are separate. it would never occur to me to try and take over a duty that was theirs."
Andersen won’t name the particular individuals she believes are working to have her removed from office yet, but says she believes the reason why is because of her decision to not have the court serve court summons.
"I would go back to a letter that I got from the Commissioners in November, Andersen said. "Basically the County Commissioners told me that I needed to continue to do something that was a legal procedure that I had stopped doing because I determined that we shouldn't be doing it. They stated in their letter to me that I needed to keep doing that. In essence, they were not even sure that I had the authority to make that decision and that they were going to get a legal opinion from the County Attorney's Office on the situation."
Andersen says the County Commissioners never got a legal opinion on the matter and that she is considering taking the issue to a federal court.