Opponents to the notion of handing citizens the power to remove judges, including the State Bar of Montana, have argued judges should rule on the law instead of being coerced by public opinion. Opponents also contended some of the arguments deployed against the Judicial Standards Commission, particularly a high dismissal rate of complaints against judges, are hollow talking points. Crabtree, meanwhile, has likened the panel to “the fox guarding the henhouse.”
Past experiences in court
Crabtree is serving a probationary sentence for embezzling more than $5,000 from a Great Falls girls’ softball organization in 2017. He was also convicted in Teton County in 2001 of issuing a bad check, a felony, according to Montana Department of Corrections records.
Peterson did not return a follow up email asking about any connection between Crabtree’s conviction and his pursuit of citizen oversight of judges.
Crabtree appealed his embezzlement case to the Montana Supreme Court in 2017, claiming a number of technical errors by the District Court judge. One point of contention was the judge barring Crabtree, who was representing himself in the case, from questioning his accuser in a manner that appeared to put her on trial.
He told Redoubt News, a conservative Christian blog, that he never had any help from the legal community because the judicial system was against him. In reaching for aid, he came across the National Forum on Judicial Accountability, the blog reported. Two weeks after he lost his appeal to the Supreme Court in October 2019, Crabtree had established the Montana Forum on Judicial Accountability. That earlier iteration of the State Council on Judicial Accountability hosted a gathering at the Holiday Inn Express hotel in Great Falls with Zena Crenshaw-Logal, co-administrator of the national chapter.