Montana Judge Suspended 30 Days Without Pay for Misconduct

District Judge Ashley Harada of Billings acknowledged violating judicial rules by not being truthful under oath

By Associated Press

BILLINGS – The Montana Supreme Court on Friday suspended a Montana judge for 30 days without pay after she acknowledged violating judicial rules by not being truthful under oath and for claims she made and other actions she took during her 2018 campaign.

The justices rejected the public censure that the Judicial Standards Commission recommended for District Judge Ashley Harada of Billings, The Billings Gazette reports.

Harada’s admissions to six counts of misconduct “require suspension from judicial duties for a period of reflection and re-focus upon the ultimate principles of honesty, respect, and decency,” justices wrote.

Four complaints were made against Harada, beginning with one that she made false or misleading statements to try to prevent a former office employee and nanny from getting into law school because of a personal grievance. Another allegation was that she lied under oath, after being sworn into office, in denying the woman had worked for her, the commission said.

Harada also violated the judicial conduct rule to refrain from knowingly making false statements when she exaggerated her legal experience while running for office, the commission found.

Also during her campaign, Harada put an endorsement on her Facebook page from the Yellowstone County Republican Party, violating a rule preventing judicial candidates from accepting endorsements from political organizations. She also made campaign donations to partisan candidates and endorsed certain Republican candidates on her Facebook page, according to her response to the complaint.

Harada’s attorney, retired District Judge Russell Fagg, said they would have a statement Friday afternoon. Harada’s suspension begins on May 1.