A March decision by the Montana Supreme Court in March could cost Rick Jore a lot more than an election—$15,663 to be exact.
Jore was the Constitution Party candidate in the Montana House District 12 election this fall. With all votes counted, he tied Democrat Jeanne Windham for the House seat. But seven of Jore’s ballots had multiple marks in the District 12 column, and Anita Big Spring, a district 12 voter, hired the Helena law firm of Meloy Trieweiler to challenge the results. Big Spring lost a district court case, and eventually took the case to the Montana Supreme Court.
In March, the court reversed the district court decision. The reversal applied not only to the district court’s decision on the ballots, but its decision to have Big Spring pay Jore’s legal fees, thus handing Jore the $15,633 tab.
But Jore refused to pay, saying the decision was unjust.
On Aug. 31, Meloy Trieweiler initiated collection from Jore, and the Lake County sheriff confiscated an initial $543.60 from Jore’s checking account. The remaining balance owed to Meloy Trieweiler is to be taken out of Jore’s assets.
Normally, the next step for someone in Jore’s position would be to appeal to a higher court. But Jore, saying the higher courts are not the place to resolve election disputes, refuses to appeal the decison.
Jore had hoped that Lake County District Court Judge Kim Christopher, in a Sept. 19 hearing the judge granted to see if Jore could exempt his assets, would invoke “interposition,” and disallow forfeiture of Jore’s assets to pay the law firm.
Interposition is invoked when a local magistrate refuses to carry out orders of a higher governmental power the magistrate believes to be unjust, thereby “interposing” themselves between the higher government power and the citizens their orders affect.
But Christopher did not jump between Jore and the Montana Supreme Court, clearing the way for Jore’s assets to be forfeited.
Jore says he will now continue the fight through the Legislature.