Senate Bill No. 158

Introduced By _______________________________________________________________________________

A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act clarifying the oath of office requirement for an acting justice of the peace; providing for the filing of the oath; amending section

3-10-231, MCA; and providing an immediate effective date."

WHEREAS, in Potter v. District Court, 266 Mont. 384 (1994), the Montana Supreme Court pointed out conflicts in the oath of office requirement for a substitute Justice of the Peace.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:

Section 1.  Section 3-10-231, MCA, is amended to read:

"3-10-231.   Circumstances in which an acting justice called in -- by whom. (1) Whenever a justice of the peace is disqualified from acting in any action because of the application of the supreme court's rules on disqualification and substitution of judges, subdivision 1, 2, or 3, he 3-1-803 and 3-1-805, the justice of the peace shall either transfer the action to another justice's court in the same county or call a justice from a neighboring county to preside in his behalf.

(2)  Within 30 days of taking office, a justice of the peace shall provide a list of persons who are qualified to hold court in his the justice's place during a temporary absence when no other another justice or city judge is not available. The persons listed must be of good moral character and have community support, a sense of community standards, and a basic knowledge of court procedure. The county commissioners shall administer the oath of office to each Each person on this list shall subscribe to the written oath of office as soon as possible after the person has received a waiver of training from the supreme court. The oath may be subscribed before any officer authorized to administer oaths. The list of qualified substitutes, the written oath, and the waiver of training must be filed with the county clerk as provided in 3-10-202. A county clerk may provide a current list of qualified substitutes to local law enforcement officers as the parties consider necessary.

(3)  Whenever a justice is sick, disabled, or absent, the justice may call in another justice, if there is one readily available, or a city judge or a person from the list provided for in subsection (2) to hold court for the absent judge justice until his the absent justice's return. If the justice is unable to call in a substitute, the county commissioners shall call in another justice, a city judge, or a person from the list provided for in subsection (2).

(4)  During the time when a justice of the peace is on vacation or attending a training session, another justice of the peace of the same county shall be is authorized to handle matters that otherwise would be handled by the absent justice. When there is no other justice of the peace in the county, the justice of the peace may designate another person in the same manner as if the justice were sick or absent.

(5)  A justice of the peace of any county may hold the court of any other justice of the peace at his that justice's request."

NEW SECTION. Section 2.  Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.