Justice Gianforted is Justice Denied

With two scheduled dates available for Greg Gianforte able to make the deadline for his court appearance on misdemeanor assault charges, it appears that the incoming Representative for Montana will not appear the way the rabble in Bozeman is forced to. According to the AP, Gianforte is likely to petition the court to change its normal process so that he doesn’t have to face the shame of appearing with regular people from Gallatin County:

Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert said Gianforte’s attorneys and Jacobs are discussing a date for Gianforte’s court appearance. Jacobs requested to be at the hearing, Lambert said.

Routine misdemeanors are usually handled by the Gallatin County Justice Court, usually three times a week. But Lambert and court officials said defendants can petition the court to deviate from the usual process – saving Gianforte the ignominy of having to stand in line with other alleged offenders to take his turn before a judge.

Lambert said he was first contacted by one of Gianforte’s attorneys as voters streamed into the polls during the May 25 election. He also spoke with Jacobs at length, he said.

In a country whose legal system is characterized by huge inequities between the wealthy and poor and whites and people of color, the fact that a wealthy white man is going to receive preferential treatment for an assault shouldn’t surprise anyone, but it hardly squares with Mr. Gianforte’s desire to make it seem like he believes he should face the consequences for his actions.

A truly repentant Greg Gianforte would take his place in line with the rest of the people in his county charged with misdemeanors and accept his punishment. Along the way, he might just learn something about a justice system that churns through the poor with far less protection of their constitutional rights in place than the wealthy receive.

A truly repentant Greg Gianforte would also stop taking advantage of special attention from law enforcement.

We’ve learned that Mr. Gianforte spent at least part of Election Day when he was hiding from Montanans and the press having his lawyer negotiate a deal for him and has benefited from the Gallatin County attorney having “lengthy discussions with an attorney” about Mr. Gianforte, a service I can’t imagine that every person charged with a misdemeanor is afforded in the county.

Hell, despite telling the press he wants to own up to what he has done, he still hasn’t personally apologized to Ben Jacobs.

Everything about the assault was treated differently than it would have been for most people in the county. Gianforte was allowed to drive away from the scene before an investigation was conducted, was allowed to hole up on his compound instead of answering questions about the assault, and was charged with misdemeanor assault before being interviewed, even though his campaign issued a statement that was proven false shortly after the attack.

If you’re one of the Gianforte trolls online who is supporting his actions, just yourself this question: if you grabbed someone by the neck, threw them to the ground and started hitting them, would you be allowed to drive away from the scene without being questioned? Would the County Attorney take your calls and have “lengthy discussions” about misdemeanor charge? To arrange a special hearing to avoid the indignity of standing in line?

The only thing that seems “sorry” in this situation is the double standard in the Gallatin County justice system that lets the wealthy get away with things the rest of us simply could not.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • If I were Gianforte’s moral and political advisor, I’d try to convince him that standing in line with the rest of the accused, and forswearing special treatment, is an important stretch of the road leading to moral and political redemption.

  • Perhaps the County Attorney does not want the court room to turn into a joke with those liberal exploding heads with IQ’s equal to ashtrays ringing cowbells and chanting like they did at GG rallies. We have already seen them on the news waiting at the court house. The “Idiots Want Attention” organization.

    • I see Bill is in full favor of a two class system, maybe they could make it really easy on gianforte and just move the entire court to his home, at a time convenient for him that is. Or maybe they could just dismiss the charges and apologize for the inconvenience they caused him. Would that work for you Bill.

    • Bill,

      Take this as you will, but given your inability to construct a rational argument, I’m not sure that you’re in any position to criticize anyone’s IQ. Incidentally, plurals (like IQs) do not take an apostrophe.

  • The “Let them eat cake!” Mentality of the few wealthy elite didn’t work out so well in France. I just hope our country survives the revolution that will happen if we continue down this path. How long do we let the ultra wealthy minority continue to take from the poor and middle class? I’m educated, informed, and over it!!

  • A young lady of modest means accidentally hit a deer at night near Lincoln, and had to stand in line in Helena in court yesterday, but Mr. Gianforte intentionally assaulted a human and will not have to stand in line? How arrogant and wrong. He should have no special treatment.

  • Why is this news? Gianforte will pay a fine, like anybody else would, and that’ll be it, unless he decides to run for re-election, when we’ll hear the audio clip in perpetuity.

    Robbie lost – Hillary lost. Live in the now Pogie !

      • I’m predicting he gets treated like everybody else, pays the fine, and they call it a day.

        You seem to be of the opinion that they are going to dismiss the charges on Greg, apologize for his inconvenience, and jail the reporter for trespassing 🙂

    • Excellent point, Eric, on the “audio clip in perpetuity.” I’m sure the GOP would never run a negative spot loop against a candidate who may have had some past legal or financial troubles.

    • Understand that Montana is a big state. Let’s say a fellow from Billings came to Kalispell and did what Gianforte did. That’s a 440 drive one way. It would not be unusual for the Billings guy (or his attorney) to ask the Kalispell court for leave to appear by phone, or to go to the Billings court and appear by the court system. It would not be unusual for the Kalispell JP to agree. This is not to say Gianforte was a bully. And to Bozeman Annie: Isn’t hitting and shoving to the floor also battery?

      • I’m missing your point here, CJ. Gianforte lives in Bozeman, the assault occurred in Bozeman and his court appearance is in Bozeman. It shouldn’t be too difficult for him to appear within the time frame set by the court.

    • nm that autofill accident – my question is, if the statement offered from his camp was proven to be false – how is this not an issue? attack, lie – leave? i don’t get it

  • Snowflakes can weep and wring their crystaline ‘hands’, usually during a meltdown. All the above liberals seem to have gotten their First Amendment issues off their flakey chests, so please move on and allow a public person the privacy that y’all too would like to preserve as a private citizen. Dust ups like the above comments foul the air. Native Montanan at an objective distance in free and diverse Texas.

    • Perhaps with all your keen legal insight you can explain in what way a court proceeding for a misdemeanor charge should be “private.”

      Snowflake. That’s cute.

    • Kind Donald, Greetings and abrazos from Memo in China, the nation of Texas. In the rough and tumble domain of the press/media, journalists must responsibly avoid the double jeopardy of hearings and trial by a jury of peers conmingled with a public prosecution of an accused in newspapers, radio, television or electronic media. “The moving finger writes and having writ, moves on. Nor all your piety nor wit can bring it back to cancel half a line” – a Persian named Omar. The question is now in your court: Do you have the uprightness and humility to apologize for and withdraw any comments that have fallen off the knife-edge of journalistic ethics? In 44 years of missionary tribal health promotion in Bolivia, Peru and Costa Rica, arguing the truth is essential, especially in a contact with Senderista guerrillas fleeing into the Amazon jungle. Do “decently and in order” is the Biblical principle from I Corinthians 14:40, yet still I grant you the leeway to populate your documents with “alleged”, “possible but undetermined” or “unnamed source” to protect both the innocent and the guilty and your integrity. Personhood is sacred whether begun as dust or rib or sperm/egg embryo, so handle with prayer before you print. Will translates to Guillen in Spanish and becomes the nickname Memo too.

      • You have a valid concern, Memo. A person is innocent until proven guilty, and no one should be tried in the press, but in a court of law and by a jury of one’s peers. However, this is not the press; it is a blog. It’s mostly opinion but based in fact. We aren’t journalists. Until some mainstream media outlet starts writing a paycheck to me, I’ll try to be fair but certainly don’t have to prescribe to any journalism “standards.” I don’t have to use the word “alleged.” And after listening to the audio tape and the testimony of eyewitnesses, I’m not going to use that word.

        Finally, I won’t grant a zygote “Personhood,” but thanks for commenting.

        • Honest Peter, Even First Amendment guarantees of freedom of expression do not lower the bar for even a blog with regard to foul, incendiary, unpatriotic or racist language, much more the human imperative to be mutually civil and polite. True, “en este perro-Mundo, la plata ladra” – in this dog-eat-dog world, money barks – a media paycheck demands ethical journalistic standards, but opinion based in fact or lies must be pursued by others in the society to ascertain the truth or equivocations. The audio tape, the eyewitnesses and the known previous pacific or aggressive behaviors of both the ‘insurgents’ still require the use of “alleged”; otherwise you have become the great god the Judge and Executioner undermining the rule of law. As to your personal personhood, you are alive and gifted for life, liberty and the pursuit of responsibilities due to 24 chromosomes paternally and 24 chromosomes maternally at a marvelous and miraculous moment of conception. I like you for having continued with me in a debate for intelligent and meaningful words. Blessings; the Word of God will set you free to be more intensely you than this world dreams of. (Iambic pentameter from the Death of King Arthur). WK

          • I don’t recall this site using “foul, incendiary, unpatriotic or racist language…” at anytime. And “patriotic” is subjective. I’d say the posts here are patriotic.

            I appreciate the blessings but if you’re seriously a Christian and follow Jesus’ teachings, what Gianforte, Trump and “conservatives” are advancing is anything but Christian.That’s the bigger picture. Also, I’m not that big a fan of human beings and all my problems would be over had I been aborted 63 years ago (that’s humor, sort of).

  • I think he did apologize. And my records show that Jacobs has always been rude and aggressive to those he doesn’t agree with. Others have stated that they thought this would have happened sooner due to Jacobs personal demeanor.

    • Oh, you have lots of “records” concerning Jacobs’ interviewing style? Any links or hard evidence you’d like to share? I thought not.

    • I’d like to be astonished that a Republican is blaming the victim of Gianforte’s assault, but decency has long left the GOP and its brownshirt supporters.

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