News Alert, Press Release|

HELENA–  The Montana Chamber presents  its 2018 Judicial Review, the seventh biennial review of 58 Montana Supreme Court decisions from 2016 and 2017 that impacted business and the economy.

You can read the Judicial Review here.

Each justice received a rating based on the justice’s participation and position in each case. The Montana Chamber also reviewed the Workers’ Compensation Court for the sixth cycle.  The document was released at the Montana Chamber’s biennial “Business and the Law” conference March 14 in  Helena.

“The Montana Chamber is one of the only organizations in the state that reviews the performance of the Montana Supreme Court from the perspective of business and the economy,” said Bridger Mahlum, government relations director for the Montana Chamber. “As the third branch of our state government, it’s just as important to evaluate the activity of the judiciary as it is the legislative and executive branches.”

Overall, the Court received a 72 percent rating for its decisions on crucial business cases – a considerable improvement from its 60 percent rating on the 2016 review. Receiving the highest individual rating was Justice Laurie McKinnon at 88 percent (Career Business Score of 89 percent). Other ratings of justices included:

  • 66 percent for Chief Justice Mike McGrath (55 percent Career Business Score),
  • 72 percent for Justice Beth Baker (64 percent),
  • 50 percent for Justice Patricia Cotter (41 percent),
  • 73 percent for Justice Jim Rice (78 percent),
  • 61 percent for Justice Mike Wheat (48 percent), and
  • 66 percent for Justice Jim Shea (63 percent), and
  • 71 percent  for Justice Dirk Sandefur (first term on Court).

The Court has decided some important cases over the past two years. In one particularly important case, T yrrell v. BNSF & Nelson v. BNSF.  The Montana Chamber filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, which ultimately was decided in its favor by the United States Supreme Court.

For the sixth review running, the Montana Chamber included a review of the Worker’s Compensation Court’s performance from 2016 and 2017. Twenty-six cases were reviewed in the Worker’s Compensation Court Review. Judge David Sandler ruled on all those cases. His rating was 73 percent, improving his career score to 68 percent.

The Montana Chamber produces the Judicial Review under the auspices of its subsidiary, the Montana Justice Coalition.  The coalition is a collection of business leaders, attorneys, and association directors tasked with keeping track of the legal climate in the state, monitoring important cases, and developing new legal reform measures that should be enacted into law.

A good legal environment is an important component of a good business climate – one of the major objectives of Envision 2026, the Montana Chamber’s ten-year strategic plan.

March 14, 2018
CONTACT: Alexandria Klapmeier, 406-442-2405 ext. 104;
[email protected]

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