A Helena Municipal Judge candidate who was censured by the Montana Supreme Court in two separate cases acknowledged Tuesday that he has "faltered professionally."
Jack Morris filed as a candidate for Helena Municipal Judge earlier this summer. Morris, a Helena-based attorney, deals with criminal cases, according to a letter published in the Independent Record in June.
Morris is currently on a two-year probationary period that requires him to have the assistance of another lawyer whenever he is representing clients.
The Montana Supreme Court censured Morris in two separate cases in 2016 and 2017.
In 2012, Morris was driving to a criminal trial in Missoula when his truck flipped, flattening the cab with Morris inside. According to Supreme Court documents, he suffered a brain injury that resulted in "short-term memory loss, confusion and inability to focus."
In a 2017 investigation, the Supreme Court found Morris had not withdrawn from representing a client in 2012 after he suffered the traumatic brain injury, "which materially impaired his ability to represent (his client)."
After that investigation and public censure, Morris was investigated and censured again by the Supreme Court for representing a client before completing all of his Continuing Legal Education courses for the year, rendering him "inactive." Morris represented his client in at least one hearing while inactive.
After his second censure, the Supreme Court suspended Morris from practicing law for three months. On Sept. 25, 2018, the court placed him on a two-year probationary period. During that time Morris was ordered to have a mentor submit quarterly reports on his legal practice, provide quarterly reports from his mental health and medical advisers on his health status and to not practice law by himself.
Greg Beebe, a Helena lawyer and Morris' mentor, said Morris has made great strides since he was placed on probation.
"He's hands down the best trial attorney I've ever seen," Beebe said about Morris. "There is no issue with his ability to practice law, and there are no issues with him being a municipal court judge."
Beebe compared Morris' re-entry into practicing law to someone who has "risen from the dead."
"He has recovered remarkably," Beebe said.
Through e-mail correspondence, Morris told the Independent Record that it took him five years to recover from his brain injury.
"I was sanctioned by the Montana Supreme Court for violating the rules of professional conduct regarding two cases that I was handling when I had the accident," he wrote. "I should have withdrawn from because of my head injury."
Morris said he has regained the short-term memory and brain functionality he lost in the accident and is now "fully recovered."
"I believe life is ultimately about redemption. I was seriously injured doing what I was good at and loved to do and faltered professionally but I have now recovered and I want to use my second chance in life and bring my 28 years of real world legal experience to the bench in order to honorably serve the people of Helena," Morris wrote.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.