From the March 2002 Idaho Observer:
Alan G. Lance, Idaho Attorney General
RE: Long Ballot Title for J.A.I.L. Initiative
Mr. Attorney General:
At the behest of the Secretary of State's office, your office drafted the long and short ballot titles for the citizens' initiative called the Judicial Accountability Initiative Law.
The short title at the bottom of the petition signature sheet reads, An Initiative Creating A Special Grand Jury With Statewide Jurisdiction In Order to Review Every Judges' Actions and Decisions. The short title does not accurately reflect the powers of the grand jury as described in the Initiative. The grand jury will only review the actions and decisions of judges if a judicial complaint that has been filed is deemed to have merit and the judge is indicted for his actions.
The first two clauses of the long ballot title read, An Initiative creating a special grand jury with statewide jurisdiction for the purpose of eliminating judicial immunity in all forms, reviewing the decisions and actions of judges in all cases before them..
The first clause is wholly inaccurate as the Initiative merely seeks to suspend judicial immunity if the judicial officer engages in, ...any deliberate violation of the law, fraud or conspiracy, intentional due process of law, deliberate disregard of material facts, judicial acts without jurisdiction, blocking a lawful conclusion of a case, or any deliberate violation of the Constitution of Idaho or the United States.
The second clause is inexpertly written so as to mislead the public with the inference that the special grand jury will review the decisions and actions of all the cases upon which judges preside -- a preposterous notion that cannot be extracted from the text of the Initiative.
According to JIC Rose Johnson, your office was contacted immediately upon receipt of the ballot titles and notified of the incorrect interpretation of the Initiative as published on the long and short ballot titles. Johnson said that Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane indicated that she may have a legitimate complaint, but that the Attorney General's office would not fix the language. He told Johnson that she had to formally appeal the ballot title language to the Supreme Court as provided in statute.
One would expect that if an environment of cooperation was being fostered by your office and the language in the short title and in clauses one and two were an honest mistake, Kane would have offered to fix the language to accurately reflect the Initiative. However, he refused.
Initiative proponents are then left with two options: 1. Appeal the ballot title to the Supreme Court (the entity that would lose its authority to oversee the administration of complaints against judges should the Initiative pass) and miss the opportunity to get the Initiative on the ballot this year or; 2. Let the ballot title stand and hope the misleading language will not compromise the ability to secure the prescribed number of petition signatures and/or prevent passage of the Initiative at the ballot box.
Since we must presume that Deputy AG Kane graduated from law school and can read with above average comprehension, we must also presume that his insistence with regard to keeping the misleading ballot title language intact was part of a deliberate campaign on the part of your office to sabotage the passage of this Initiative.
If there is some other explanation for the actions of your office, please send it to Johnson with your apology and a corrected ballot title. I am sure she will forward your response to the appropriate parties.
Yours in Truth,
(Feel free to clip this letter and send it to the AG's office)
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