On September 24, 2013, Montana NOW and Pennsylvania NOW submitted a complaint about Judge G. Todd Baugh to the Montana Judicial Standards Commission. In my capacity as a member of the Executive Committee of Pennsylvania NOW, I worked with Marian Bradley, President of Montana NOW, to craft the original Complaint. You can read a summary of and public delivery of this complaint to the Commission here.
Judge Baugh responded to our complaint on November 13, 2013. The Commission sent us a copy of his response on November 19, 2013. They gave us twenty days to review and advise the Commission on the factual accuracy of Judge Baugh’s response. Our response was faxed to the Commission on Saturday morning, December 7, 2013.
In our initial Complaint, Montana NOW and Pennsylvania NOW alleged that Judge G. Todd Baugh violated the following three Ethics Rules:
- Rule 1.2 says, “promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.”
- Rule 2.2 says, “shall uphold and apply the law, and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.”
- Rule 2.3 says, “shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, or engage in harassment, including but not limited to bias, prejudice, or harassment based upon race, sex, gender, …socioeconomic status, …”
In his response to our Complaint (and in the press), Judge Baugh acknowledges that he violated Rule 1.2 but denies any violation of Rule 2.2 or 2.3. We believe he is in error and continues to violate these two rules in addition to Rule 1.2. Judge Baugh claims in his response to our Complaint that he did not violate either Rule 2.2 or 2.3 because he “read” the materials presented to him. He then goes on to say, “Some phrases [of what I read] stuck in my mind, but it was inappropriate to repeat them.”
We reviewed his complaint and saw additional comments of continued disregard for the performance of his duties and bias in sexual assault cases. For example as just mentioned, Judge Baugh says that he now won’t repeat whatever it was that “stuck in his mind” but was “inappropriate” to repeat. This along with many other statements during and after the sentencing trial, in the press, and in his response all point to error in his refusal to acknowledge his violation of all three ethics rules.
Our response directly supports our initial Complaint of the violation of Rules 1.2, 2.2, and 2.3 based upon Judge Baugh’s response. We added additional comments about this particular case. In addition, we included supporting information as to what other judges throughout the country have said in relation to adjudicating and sentencing in sexual assault cases in general. We believe that this supporting commentary from fellow judges backs up our concerns about the mishandling of this case.
The following is a copy of the Response that we filed on Saturday
We believe that Judge Baugh violated all three rules (1.2, 2.2, and 2.3). He agrees with us that he violated Rule 1.2 in that he failed to promote public confidence and failed to avoid impropriety in his statement and minimal sentencing of Rambold.
We disagree completely in his refusal to acknowledge the violation of Rules 2.2 and 2.3. He did NOT uphold and apply the law relating to the sexual assault of a minor. He did not perform his duties fairly and impartially. His words, his conduct throughout this case and in the media, and his response to our Complaint continue to show bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, gender, and socioeconomic status.
Judge Baugh’s statements and behavior need more than a letter of censure which he claims he was told by a member of the panel in October that he would get. Judge Baugh listened to the recommendations of the Defendant and not to the law. Again, with his Response to our Complaint, Judge Baugh continues to show that he has no regard for the law in the area of sexual assaults of minors and thus believes that censure is the correct remedy for violating “only” one rule – Rule 1.2. He takes no responsibility whatsoever for violating Rules 2.2 and 2.3.
Hopefully the Judicial Standards Commission will do the morally and legally right thing, find that he violated all three rules, and remove Judge G. Todd Bench from the bench. And if the case is remanded back to the local court by the Supreme Court for resentencing, we hope that this case will be given to another judge.