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Rice should have recused himself from Beach proceedings

2014-07-29T00:00:00Z 2014-07-29T09:15:05Z Rice should have recused himself from Beach proceedings The Billings Gazette
July 29, 2014 12:00 am

Montana Supreme Court Justice Jim Rice was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1957. While he was still a child, he moved with his family to the Glasgow area. He graduated from Glasgow High School in 1975. He then attended college in Missoula (University of Montana). He became a member of the Montana State Bar in 1982.

The homicide of Kim Nees took place near Poplar in 1979. Barry Beach was convicted of her murder in 1984 after a short trial in Glasgow. Glasgow was a small town with a legal community of less than a dozen attorneys.

The probability that Rice knew or had close acquaintances who knew members of the trial's jury has to be quite high. The probability that he heard rumors and other hearsay about this trial that did not originate in official court documents has to be quite high also. Given these facts and circumstances, Rice should never have been involved with any issues involving the Beach case while he was on the Montana Supreme Court. Ethically, he should have recused himself from such involvement.

Instead of recusing himself from the Beach case, Rice wrote the court's opinion that denied Beach a new trial and returned him to prison effectively for the rest of his life.

As Rice's opponent in the upcoming Supreme Court election in November, I again challenge Rice to a public debate.

Anyone interested in my campaign is invited to go to

W. David Herbert


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