Montana Law Challenged in Federal Court After Defamation Case From Ravalli County
Few radio ads during the 2016 political race were as divisive as a series of ads produced by candidate Robert Myers in his race against Judge Jeffery Langton. Langton eventually won the Ravalli County District Judge race, but ads like this one titled ‘liquor Langton’ have spurred further lawsuits.
In late April, Langton filed a criminal defamation case against Myers over claims made during the campaign, but Myers is countering by challenging Montana’s law in federal court.
Myers’ attorney Matthew Monforton explains.
"The statute that judge Langton is relying on is patently unconstitutional, and there is no way to see this effort by Judge Langton and local law enforcement as anything other than an attempt to intimidate witnesses that Myers is trying to use to defend himself in the attorney disciplinary proceedings," Monforton said.
The case is now shifting into a fight over the extent of free speech, as Myers seeks to have Montana’s criminal defamation laws thrown out.
"Montana is one of the few states in the country that still has a criminal defamation statute on its books. The reason that most states have gotten rid of criminal defamation statutes is because they are routinely abused by public officials to punish and silence their political opponents, and that is exactly what judge Langton is attempting to do to my client."
Myers filed a motion to strike down Montana's Criminal defamation statute yesterday, even as the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Department is in the process of investigating those charges.