Montana judge gets unpaid suspension for courthouse hallway comments

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A Montana judge is getting a public reprimand and a 30-day unpaid suspension as a result of remarks that he made about a witness while in a courthouse hallway.

The Montana Supreme Court approved the sanctions against Judge Raymond Dayton of Anaconda, Montana, in a May 2 opinion, report the Associated Press and the Montana Standard.

His conduct was “unacceptable,” the state supreme court said.

The incident happened in August 2022. Dayton was accused of making “inappropriate comments of a sexual nature” about a witness who alleged that a defendant had stalked her. Courthouse employees overheard the remarks.

Besides imposing sanctions, the Montana Supreme Court ordered Dayton not to engage in a retaliatory conduct toward the person who filed a complaint or toward witnesses.

Dayton stipulated to violating an ethics rule that requires judges to act in a way that promotes confidence in the judiciary.

Dayton gave a statement to the Montana Standard.

“This matter has to do with a comment that I made, in jest, in what I thought was a private conversation with a colleague,” he said. “I was unaware that others were listening. The matter was reported to the powers that be who have decided to punish me.

“I have decided to accept their punishment. Otherwise, I will continue to endeavor to perform my duties to the best of my ability as I have during my 40-year career in the law. I do not intend to comment on the matter further.”

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