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Dear Mr. Attorney General

by pete on January 14, 2011

January 13, 2011

Dear Mr. Attorney General,

     I am writing to you today because I am confused about the legality of circumstances currently happening in Gallatin County.

     Recently, District Court Judge John Brown found our county commissioners guilty of what the newspaper described as illegally implementing a pay scheme to circumvent state law and he awarded the law enforcement personnel (plaintiffs) a 4 million dollar judgment with possible penalties and attorney fees allowable at 110 percent of the back pay amount.  Estimated total debt, 10 million dollars.

     My first question is if they have been found guilty of “illegally implementing a pay scheme to circumvent state law” then why are they NOT being prosecuted for deliberately breaking a state law?  Shouldn’t our county attorney be looking into criminal charges instead of helping them find a way to pass off this dishonorable debt on the innocent taxpayers of Gallatin County?

     By all appearances it looks like our county attorney did nothing to advise the commissioners not to try to “circumvent state law” during the prolonged period wherein the commissioners implemented their illegal plan.  Shouldn’t he, too, be held accountable for his actions, or lack thereof?  We have seen presidents, senators, congressman , governors and states attorneys found guilty of “circumventing” various laws and, in the real world, they have to pay the consequences for their illegal actions.  Is there a different set of rules for county attorneys and county commissioners?

     Essentially, their legal actions have bankrupt our county.  Do we, as innocent taxpaying citizens, have any legal recourse?  It appears they are seeking ways to burden the citizens of our county with the dishonest and dishonorable debt they have incurred by their illegal actions.  In addition to any attempts to put this burden on the innocent taxpayers we are, now, also faced with cuts in programs and services that our taxes usually provide for.

      Do we have any legal recourse to recoup a percentage of our tax dollars that are not now going to pay for the services to which we should be entitled?  What does it take to hold these people liable for their deliberate betrayal of the public trust and their intentional breaking state law?  Does someone need to file an official complaint?  A request to your office for an official investigation?  File a lawsuit in District Court?

     Considering we have seen presidents, senators, congressmen, governors and states attorneys prosecuted for their various attempts to circumvent the law it sure does not seem right to me that these criminals should be allowed to walk away laughing much less further punish the innocent citizens with the burden of their dishonesty.

     If a request for an investigation or official complaint needs to be filed with your office e please consider this letter to be just that.  If there are specific forms that need to be filed please forward some to my address.

     I look forward to any light you might be able to shed on this situation.  I hope you share our belief in the Constitution and consider these dishonorable actions to be as reprehensible as do the taxpayers of Gallatin County.

Sincerely,

Pete Rothing

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Warren Welter January 15, 2011 at 8:34 am

The Citizens of Gallatin County
Deserve Better at Election Time

The incumbent County Attorney, Marty Lambert maintained his elected position by
default – there was no opposing candidate.

In the first month of this year I observed the two week courtroom proceedings of Bill Jorgensen v. Gallatin County, the Honorable E. Wayne Phillips, Judge presiding with a jury. I witnessed the desperate attempt of grieving parents to uncover the truthful circumstances surrounding the death of their son, Chris Jorgensen. In my opinion, the testimony of the witnesses for the respondent was less than credible and I’m certain the jurors struggled with this during their deliberation. I am not challenging their verdict, I applaud their civic responsibility. However, during the trial, Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert made two brief courtroom appearances, eventually took the stand and provided a questionable testimony. What I am challenging, is the judicial responsibility of Mr. Lambert and would like to bring his courtroom testimony into full review.

Mr. Lambert is duly sworn and responds to the opening questions that he has been in office since 1997. He is questioned about some of his duties as county attorney and then asked if he is responsible for handling matters that involve the death, the management of and examination of a decedent by the coroner. His response is “no”. Clearly an infraction of “MCA 7-4-2915. Custody and disposition of bodies held pending investigation. (2) A dead human body in the custody of a county coroner must be held until the coroner, after consultation with appropriate law enforcement officials and the county attorney, establishes that it is not necessary to hold the body to determine the reasonable and true cause of death or that the body is no longer necessary to assist any local investigation.”

Next, Mr. Lambert is queried if he is involved in the handling and disposition of suicide notes of the victims and again his answer is “no”. And another infraction, “MCA 7-4-2917. Disposition of property of deceased – suicide note. (1) Any property of a decedent or any suicide note composed by a decedent in the custody of the county coroner shall be held until such time as the county attorney establishes that it is not necessary to hold such property or note to determine the true cause of death, to assist any investigating agency, or to be used as evidence in any related criminal court action.

The questioning continues, Mr. Lambert is asked if he was aware that there was a suicide note involved in this case. His response is that he was not and continues to say that his “first recollection of the case at all would have been in 2007, and I’m not even certain when this young man died. Was it 2005?”. The questioning attorney for the petitioner responds that it was 2004. Mr. Lambert’s startled reaction is “2004?”. And goes on to say that at some point after 2007 he did learn that a note was involved. How could that be, it was front page news, with photographs, in the daily newspaper the following day. Is it possible that the county attorney would not be fully cognizant of a violent hostage situation where the County Sheriff, six of his deputies were on the scene with weapons drawn and the confrontation concludes with a questionable death?

At the end of the trial and after the verdict is delivered, the presiding Judge, Honorable E. Wayne Phillips acknowledges a very compelling note signed by all the jurors. The jury foreperson reads the statement to the courtroom that ends . . . “In the future, our hope is as a result of this case, changes in the investigation policies and procedures will be made by Gallatin County officials.” Has this compassionate request by twelve concerned citizens been acknowledged by the county attorney or routinely dismissed?

In conclusion, I submit that the statementsin the enclosed testimony under oath and jury statement clearly illustrates Mr. Lambert’s willful disregard to acknowledge and fulfill his statutory duties as an officer and employee of the State of Montana, “MCA 45-7-401. Official Misconduct. (1) A public servant commits the offense of official misconduct when in an official capacity the public servant commits any of the following acts: (a)purposely or negligently fails to perform any mandatory duty as required by law or by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Regretfully Submitted,

Warren Welter
P.O. Box 998
Salmon Arm, BC
Canada V1E 4P2

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