From the March 2002 Idaho Observer:

Ballot title deception:

Is the Idaho AG afraid of J.A.I.L.?

BOISE -- It would appear that the state has begun its campaign to sabotage the efforts of J.A.I.L 4 Judges to pass judicial accountability legislation through citizen initiative.

The office of Attorney General Alan Lance, through Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane, submitted its Certificate of Review (see page 12) to the office of Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa February 11.

Kane, who is also representing the Secretary of State's office in the term limits repeal fiasco (see page 14), claims that, even if passed by popular vote, the initiative will be overturned. His review, while admittedly cursory, claims that, “Nearly every provision of this initiative contains elements that are in conflict with the well settled principles of federal and constitutional law.”

Seasoned Lewiston Lawyer and J.A.I.L. proponent John Bradbury provided Rose Johnson with a “cursory” review of the AG's review and stated that he was, “confident....that the opinion is seriously flawed” (see page 13).

The Secretary of State's office approved the ballot titles for the J.A.I.L. Initiative February 15. The short ballot title, drafted by the Idaho Attorney General's office and affixed to the bottom of the petition signature page, reads, “An Initiative Creating A Special Grand Jury With Statewide Jurisdiction In Order to Review Every Judges' Actions and Decisions.”

Though every person who signs a J.A.I.L. petition will read the short title of the initiative, there is nothing in its text to suggest that the grand jury will have the authority to review every judge's actions and decisions.

According to the text, the grand jury is authorized to investigate, “...any deliberate violation of the law, fraud or conspiracy, intentional violation of 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 long ballot title is equally as misrepresentative of the initiative's intent. The first few lines of the long ballot title read, “An Initiative creating a special grand jury with statewide jurisdicion for the purpose of eliminating judicial immunity in all forms, reviewing the decisions and actions of judges in all cases before them...”

The J.A.I.L. initiative specifically states that judges will retain their traditional immunity in good behavior. However, if a complaint is found to have merit and the grand jury returns an indictment, the judge's immunity will then be removed and he will be subject to due process of law like an ordinary citizen. AG Kane's inference that the grand jury will also be empowered to review the decision and actions of all judges is preposterous. Rose Johnson contacted Kane and asked if his office would change the ballot title language to accurately reflect the intent of the initiative. “Though Kane did agree that I had a right to be concerned about the ballot title language, he refused to change it. He told me to appeal to the Supreme Court as provided in statute,” said Johnson.

J.A.I.L. proponents were left with two choices: They could either appeal the ballot title and lose the opportunity to be on the ballot for next November or go with it and hope for the best.

J.A.I.L. decided to hope for the best. Legal minds are currently exploring the options at J.A.I.L.'s disposal with regard to when and how the ballot title language can be changed without compromising the time constraints.

One must wonder why the state would so obviously obstruct the activities of citizens in search of judicial accountability.

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