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Judge Files Injunction Against Lincoln County
Stormy Langston says closing the Eureka Justice of the Peace office will be an inconvenience to people in north Lincoln County
A Justice of the Peace in Eureka has filed an injunction against Lincoln County after the commission voted to shutter her office.

Lincoln County commissioners voted to combine the county’s two Justice of the Peace positions into one in December, citing budgetary concerns. The county has slashed the budget in recent months and will have to get even more aggressive in the coming weeks after it was discovered a mathematical error led to the county taking $2.1 million in additional taxes.

But Judge Stormy Langston, who is based out of Eureka, said the commission did not follow the correct protocol when it decided to combine the positions and did not hold a proper public hearing within 20 days of making the motion.

“I don’t think they followed proper protocol and they did not listen to their constituents,” Langston said.

On Dec. 6, the Lincoln County Commission held a special meeting to vote on combining the Justice of the Peace offices in Libby and Eureka, as well as dissolving the county’s school superintendent. All three are elected positions and are up for reelection this year. The motion passed two to one, with Tony Berget and Ron Downey voting in favor and Mike Cole voting against. Five days later, on Dec. 11, the commission formally signed the resolution into law.

On Dec. 30, public hearings were held in Libby and Eureka about the consolidation. At the hearing in Eureka, according to court documents, most people in attendance were against consolidating the Justice of the Peace offices into one office in Libby.

Langston’s attorney, Timothy Baldwin in Kalispell, filed an injunction on Jan. 31 arguing that since the commission voted on the resolution on Dec. 6 but didn’t hold a public hearing until Dec. 30, it broke the law. According to Montana Code Annotated, a hearing should have been held within 20 days.

Lincoln County Attorney Bernard G. Cassidy sent a letter to Langston in January saying that the law was not broken, because even though the commission voted on the matter on Dec. 6, it did not sign the resolution until Dec. 11.
 
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