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June 12, 2017

Swift and sensible sentencing justice for high-profile violent crime in Montana

As reported in this local article, headlined "Greg Gianforte gets anger management, community service after admitting he assaulted reporter," a high-profile crime and criminal got a non-prison sentence for a violent crime today.  Here are some of the particulars:

Republican congressman-elect Greg Gianforte will not spend any time in jail after he admitted a charge of misdemeanor assault Monday for “body slamming” a reporter on the eve of his election. “I just want to say I’m sorry,” Gianforte told Ben Jacobs, the reporter for the Guardian that he assaulted in Bozeman at a campaign event about 24 hours before polls closed on May 24.

Gallatin County Justice Court Judge Rick West ordered Gianforte to complete 20 hours of anger management counseling and 40 hours of community service. He was given a deferred six-month jail sentence.  If he does not violate the conditions of his sentence, the charge could be dismissed.

West initially tried to give Gianforte a sentence of four days in jail, converted to two days in a work program.  Work programs, which cut the time of a sentence in half, are not an option in assault cases, however. West said he felt anger management was necessary since Gianforte, who will go to Washington, D.C., under heavy scrutiny, could not handle questions from a single reporter.

Motioning around the courtroom, he said “It’s not a lot of cameras compared to what you’re going to see at the White House.”

"It is not my intent you spend four days in jail," West said to a small courtroom packed with journalists and some other members of the public. "I do not think that would serve the community or the taxpayers." West referenced Gianforte's charitable giving in the Bozeman community and around the state when deliberating the sentence, but also said Gianforte's unprovoked attack overshadowed that....

Jacobs, wearing a suit and new pair of glasses that replaced the ones broken in the attack, read to the court from a prepared statement. He spoke quietly enough the judge had to ask him to speak up. Jacobs described the day of the attack, saying he had entered a room to ask Gianforte a question.  "I was just doing my job," Jacobs said. "Mr. Gianforte's response was to slam me to the floor and start punching me." After the attack, Jacobs said Gianforte then sent an "inflammatory public statement in which he insisted this unprovoked ... attack was somehow my fault," Jacobs said.

When pressed by the judge, Gianforte at first did not give clear details on the assault but later said he grabbed for Jacobs' phone, ended up grabbing his wrists instead and a "scuffle" ensued where both men fell to the ground....  In his apology letter to Jacobs, Gianforte wrote “Notwithstanding anyone’s statement to the contrary, you did not initiate any physical contact with me, and I had no right to assault you.”  Neither Gianforte nor his staff have clarified why a false statement was sent out after the assault....

A handful of protesters were outside the Law and Justice Center after court ended.  They held up signs saying "Lock him up," "Shame" and "Justice vs. White Christian Privilege." Jackie Crandall drove up from Roberts that morning to protest. "I think Greg Gianforte got special treatment," she said.  "If he wasn't rich and powerful, he would be in jail. If he was black, he would be in jail."

As the title of this post suggests, I think a non-prison sentence for this violent crime seems quite sensible for a remorseful first offender who seems unlikely to be on a path to criminality (even though he is on a path to Congress).

June 12, 2017 at 06:10 PM | Permalink


Don't agree Doug. To be sure I don't think he should get a very long sentence--maybe a month-- but the actual sentence comes across to me like a slap on the wrist. One thing I tend to dislike is this type of suspended sentence nonsense. I see it a lot and I think it is dishonorable because it puts a lie into the public record. He assaulted someone; it is not the type of thing everyone should get amnesia about.

Posted by: Daniel | Jun 12, 2017 6:30:02 PM

He assaulted a reporter. I think some small time in jail, perhaps weekends when he is off from Congress, would be appropriate. It wasn't some bar fight or something.

I joked that he might be collecting trash ala "Better Call Saul," for those who watch that show. I think something like that might be appropriate too, not just some sort of community service that amounts to volunteering. I'm not sure what he will do there though.

I guess he's remorseful -- who knows; he eventually, after being elected, signed a letter. As to "path of criminality," I also don't know if stressed again that he won't do something again. The anger management training there is appropriate. Who would be surprised if some time down the road he cuts someone off while driving or something in anger?

Posted by: Joe | Jun 12, 2017 8:51:46 PM

Punching out an in your face journalist, who will not leave you alone, is a patriotic duty, you moron and you weasel. He should get a medal, and a gift certificate to a gun store for his favorite pistol.

There are two classes of people more morally reprehensible than the lawyer profession, serial child rapists and killers, and journalists. These scam artists are immunized by the Free Press Clause of the First Amendment.

There is only one outlet that is not a hate speech, worthless, biased propaganda. At C-SPAN, Charles Lamb said, they counted stories to keep them balanced. Every where else, welcome to the David Duke website, you morons. Is it a crime to punch out David Duke, heck no. He is a leader of the KKK, and has asked for it. I see no difference between his web site and the Guardian newspaper. Except the people here are too stupid and too weasely to see the self evident.

Posted by: David Behar | Jun 12, 2017 9:09:07 PM

Going into someone's face, refusing to back off is implied consent to be a crime victim. Going into someone's face is battery or at least assault. The battery of the journalist is justified self defense.

Again and again, where is the defense in this case? How much does your specialty suck, Bruce? You people really stink, you moron.

Posted by: David Behar | Jun 12, 2017 9:14:18 PM

Had the defendant really hurt the journalist, the election results would have been even more lopsided. The voters loved his move. The Sheriff, the prosecutor, and the judge must all be fired.

Posted by: David Behar | Jun 12, 2017 11:04:14 PM

Bruce. What in the hell is this shit? You people should be beaten with a stick.

For the $millions this dufus likely got, I would have destroyed the accuser, the prosecutor, the vicious, feminist judge that allowed this ridiculous case to proceed. I would have demanded lie detector testing of the vile feminist accuser. I would have gotten the fans of Cosby to go after the parties. They would have been driven from the state, or would have committed suicide.


Posted by: David Behar | Jun 13, 2017 12:12:53 AM

The fact that the reporter was hounding him should have been a mitigating, not aggravating, factor.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 13, 2017 8:36:44 AM

Bruce. Should this fact have been brought up in the trial of Bill Cosby? Again where is the $million defense? You claim the poor do not get enough defense attention. Here is a billionaire celebrity.


Posted by: David Behar | Jun 13, 2017 2:50:25 PM

A juror is slowing down this railroad of the productive male by the feminist lawyer running dog.


Posted by: David Behar | Jun 14, 2017 9:56:25 PM

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