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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Statement re: the Judge Pullan Letter

Senator Buttars' letter to Judge Pullan was a private expression of disappointment to a judge he trusted and helped confirm. The letter made no threats and demanded no action (and anticipated none).

Senator Buttars exercised his first amendment right to communicate his opinion privately with another public official. The letter was sent to to Judge Pullan privately. Others made it public. Senate Leadership was concerned the letter – now published statewide – may now have a negative effect on the confirmation process of new judges.

An early draft of the letter was circulated among several concerned individuals. The senate president was one of those and he offered some suggested edits. Independently elected senators, however, do not need permission or approval from the senate president to send mail.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

senatesite.com should change its name to the defendbuttars.com. It is a shame that so much time, energy, and effort have been WASTED defending this guy. Unbelievable.

2/27/2008 12:55 PM  
Blogger Davis Didjeridu said...

Agreed.
Ric, do you really need to spend time defending what was an obvious mistake. Buttars 1st Amendment rights ended when he threatened to Judge Pullan with losing his judgeship if he didn't rule the way Buttars wanted. That is textbook extortion. President Valentine did the right thing in removing Buttars from the committee chairmanship to prevent him from using his political position to interfere with justice; of course that was after the whistle blew. Hopefully, the people of Utah will do the right thing in November by electing competent and ethical Senators to replace Buttars, Valentine, and everyone else who saw this letter and betrayed their oath of office.

2/27/2008 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am deeply disturbed that the Senate President, an attorney (!), participated in any way in this ex parte communication. I would be shocked beyond belief if the Senate majority allowed him to serve another term as Senate President.

2/27/2008 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... on Senate letterhead. Which means it's NOT private, and carries a strongly implied threat of retribution from a person in authority. It was an unacceptable violation of propriety and ethics, and should be treated as such.

2/27/2008 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Obi wan liberali said...

I'm sorry, but that was a really weak defense. When a State Senator who is in the business of reviewing judges sends a letter like that on Senate letterhead, it goes beyond bad judgment to a violation of the Separation of Powers.

The fact that Sen. Valentine saw the letter and did nothing about it until it was made public shows pretty poor ethical judgment as well.

Very disappointing behavior out of our lawmakers.

2/27/2008 3:59 PM  
Blogger Voice of Utah said...

Ric, I do have a hard time seeing how you can argue with a straight face that a letter (1) on official Senate letterhead that (2) makes multiple references to Buttars' senate position can qualify as a "private" communication. By the way, even Buttars should have known that all communications to a judge regarding a lawsuit get forwarded to the attorneys on the case.

2/27/2008 5:55 PM  
Blogger VilaD said...

I agree that Senator Buttars does have the right as a private citizen to express his disappointment with the Judge. And I agree that he should not have used official letter head or even signed the letter with his Senatorial title.

For all we know, the draft that Senator Buttars showed to Senator Valentine was not on Senate letterhead, and Senator Valentine had no idea the Senator Buttars would send the letter on official letter head, or sign it with his elected Senatorial title.

I didn't read any implied threat of retribution in the letter, only an attempt to get the Judge to remember who his supporters were and possibly feel shame for not going along with the opinion of the supporters.

I can't tell if it was done with the deliberate intent to try and intimidate the Judge, or is just another example of a very bad judgment call on the part of Senator Buttars

In any case, Senator Buttars had better learn how to play the Politics Game, because he has enemies now that will keep looking for, (and finding), the Senator's mistakes to use against him.

2/27/2008 5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

VoU,

Wouldn't it be private in the sense that it was not a communication on the part of the senate or its leadership?

I think we've all learned over the past 2-3 weeks that each individual legislator seems largely free to say what he/she pleases, regardless of whether it is well advised.

2/27/2008 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

President, I am thrilled someone finally made a stand for Sen. Buttars. Since it is now everyone's private past time to find anything they can to add to the media frenzy, I appreciate that you made a statement and we can move on. Does anyone even know what bills are being passed? Probably not because they are so concerned with sen. Buttars.

2/27/2008 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Move on? Make a stand for Buttars? No way! What Valentine has done is show his true colors. This is a very serious breach of ethics and legal standards, for which very serious consequences (including an overhaul of Senate leadership) are warranted.

2/27/2008 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really? What does everyone here really know about what was said, what was authorized, what form the letter was in when Valentine saw it, what edits he suggested, etc.

Everyone needs to chill out and wait for all the facts to come in.

2/27/2008 11:33 PM  
Blogger Davis Didjeridu said...

. In this post, the Senate Site makes it clear that Valentine knew the chairman of the Judicial Confirmation Committee was writing a letter to a judge, who should not be subject to such writings, about a case before his docket. The sheer fact that a letter was written by the chair of the committee is troubling, though it may be legal; the fact that Valentine knew about any of it is disgusting. Maybe the Senate President should have suggested that Buttars not even write the letter.

2/28/2008 10:19 AM  
Blogger Jason The said...

Ric,

Are you serious? This is the argument you guys are going to adopt?

Really?

2/28/2008 12:44 PM  
Blogger Jesus said...

Senator Chris Buttars' apology would mean more if he had done so at his own congregation.

Think about it.

I still love you Chris.

2/28/2008 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Utilizing senate letterhead, which is paid for by tax dollars, makes any private communication "official". Moreover, the nature of using elected official's "official" letterhead, communicates the contents of the letter is tacitly endorsed by those who are represented by Senator Buttars. If "official" letterhead was, in fact, viewed by the State as "private," fund raising letters to potential supporters could utilize the same "official" letterhead and suffer no legal consequence.

Mr. Buttars should have utilized his personal letterhead if he actually intended to send private communication not intended for public consumption. The very nature of utilizing "official" letterhead sends a powerful, underlying message. Was it meant to be blatantly intimidating? Probably not. Was it meant to walk the thin line of intimidating? Certainly yes.

Does the act demean the honor and trust that Senator Buttars' voters placed in him? Again, certainly yes.

2/28/2008 7:12 PM  

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