History Lesson, QED

UPDATE: Scrubbed! I have learned that the links to the message boards below are no longer valid. Apparently, all of the posts created by "Sam" from GORE have been removed, and "Sam" from GORE's profile has been updated to remove any information. Don't worry, though, the information might be gone in some formats, but not others.

NEW UPDATE: Welcome to referrals from I think therefore I blog. You can find the rest of the story here.

(This is the conclusion of a multi-part series about some goings on in our County. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 can be found below. Thank you to Firefly who will soon be posting her own take on all of these events. I've read her version; it's better than mine.)

Sam Harris filed at least two complaints against Mike Smartt for what he thought was conduct inappropriate for a judge. What appears below can be found in the public domain as you can tell from the live links. I didn't sneak onto anyone's computer to get anything. It's all out there for the whole world to see. Judge for yourself.

There's a videogame out there called "Gore." GORE is what one calls a "first person shooter," or FPS. It is a game where what you see on the screen is what your character in the game would see. That usually includes the business end of a weapon pointing away from you as you wander around the game's environment shooting and blowing up anybody and anything in your path.

Further, GORE can be played online. In other words, you log into a server somewhere, and the virtual world in which you play the game is occupied not only by you, but by other players from all over the world. Players join teams, or clans, and wander around this game and kill each other.

As is common with these games, in order to generate or maintain interest, the game's developers maintain forums or message boards where the players of the game (or anyone else who is interested) can sign up and go online to hold discussions about the game or anything else that strikes their fancy. The folks who brought us GORE have such a forum. If you go to this forum, click on members list, and then click on "S" you'll find that the Gore forum has a member named "Sam." Sam joined the forum on June 18, 2002, and is apparently 36 years old. Sam lists his location as "Great Falls, Montana," and his occupation as "Judge.

This is interesting, but not nearly as interesting as what you will find if you click on the link entitled "Find All Posts by Sam." Then it gets really interesting, especially in light of our History Lesson.

Now, before we get going here, I have to confess that I do not know if Sam from the GORE forums is really our local JP, Sam Harris. I do not know that even if Sam from the GORE forums posted Sam Harris's primary election results this last June, and asked for donations online. I do not it to be Justice of the Peace Sam Harris, even if Sam from the GORE forums said "TBH (to be honest) teh last time I got gay porn off a guy's computer it cost me 2 years of my life and ended with teh guy hanging himself." (9-22-06)

Nevertheless, even if we don't know if Sam from Gore is Sam Harris, it's still interesting to overlay Sam from GORE's posts on the message boards with Sam Harris's conduct during his attack on Mike Smartt. You, the reader, can decide who is who. "The public has a right to know what's going on in the county with our elected county officials," said Sam Harris back then.

We agree.

Sam Harris said:

Harris said the gay porn images "will remain with me for the rest of my life." He said he "couldn't sleep that night and kept visualizing another of the screen images of 'one man giving another man oral sex.'" Earlier Harris had said that, as a result of viewing the images, "my stomach has been upset and I am having difficulty sleeping."
Sam from GORE said:

March 6, 2006, discussing one of his online 'friend's' need to get a vasectomy, Sam from GORE wrote: "I know you would rather I did [sic] "hope" anything about ur balls, but still hope it ain't that bad. I get ALOT of pressure to get clipped. Scared. Very scared."

February 25, 2006, discussing one of his online 'friends' making a joke about him, or in the online vernacular of 7th graders, lol'ing, Sam from GORE wrote: "when in doubt, lol at Sam. I can live with that. Also could live with, when in doubt, show Sam ur titties. But you don't have those, so lol away."

November 7, 2005, Sam is engaged in a discussion with his online 'friends' about the Gore game. One of his friends got "booted" or kicked off the server he was playing. Sam's response after learning the guy who "booted" the friend was also the friend's roommate? "Then be mad at your roommate. If you live with homos, u get bant too. Tough bounce, kiddo."

September 7, 2005, a discussion about gay marriage turned to a discussion about bestiality. Sam, discussing his online friend, "Doghouse," has this to say: "I'm not going to contribute anything intelligent, I would just like to point out that Kaiser's comment about man/sheep marriage being cruelty to animals is way out of line. I know Doghouse well and I guarantee he would treat his sheep wife VERY well. I think he would try very hard to satisfy the sheep's needs."

February 24, 2005, Sam from GORE and his 'friends' are in an in depth discussion of GORE. (February 24, 2005 is a THURSDAY, presumably a work day.) First, at 10:49 a.m., when Judge Harris is presumably at work, or should be at work, Sam from GORE posts a lengthy essay on his GORE gaming strategy. He finishes with this about his online friends:

That being said, if I see players like Doghouse, Kaiser, China (you other miscellaneous good fags too) on my team, I am always happy. Each team needs a variety of players with different strategies and styles to be effective. When everyone has the same style, they are too predictable and easy to beat. If you think avoiding a fight is gay, whatever. My strategy is to win the game for my team and I do that consistently. ...And, at teh end of teh day, if you call me gay, I'll toss some gai in ur face and laugh a little inside. And if you are Peach, I will toss u some gai every time As for cheating fags, we all know there are some out there.
Later, on February 24, 2005, discussing his friend's comment about Sam chasing a Rainbow Flag on a version of GORE called Capture the Flag: "Teh rainbow colored flag BS has gotta be teh funniest shit I've seen here in a long time. That is a A+ insult if I've ever seen one. You bastard."

Apparently, on GORE, implying one is a homosexual is an "A+ insult." I don't know, though, because, on November 17, 2005, Sam tells one of his online friends: "Flacid, I love you like a gay Canadian nephew..."

January 26, 2005, one of Sam's online friends wrestles with the dilemma of trying to grow his business, or taking a job with benefits. Sam weighs in: "TAKE TEH FUKEN JOB AND GET SOME BENEFITS HOMO. Pretty soonish you will get drunx and run it thru teh wrong chix and you will be at teh clinic going, "Man, I wish I had a job with benefits so I could afford teh penis cream to stop teh burning."

October 6, 2004, Sam learns his friend, Doghouse, had knee surgery: "Take care, Dog. Use you [sic] recovery time to play video games and watch porn."

September 7, 2006, Sam is discussing an online friend, "Tooth's," dilemma in having to fire an employee. The friend points out that he is very professional at his work place and, out of the blue, Sam from GORE goes here: "Oh, and glad to hear u are all professional and not hitting on ur hot chixlets at work. However, I know teh Tooth, and I'd lay down serious cash betting that u've got a potty-cam set up for 'security' reasons."

September 12, 2004, Sam responds to suggestions that the game GORE is dying out: "If Gore is dead, then we are all necrophiliacs, cuz we keep bangin on this corpse every day."

May 16, 2004, discussing his favorite 80's music, Sam from GORE 'lets his hair down': "Blondie still gives me a stiffy, tbh. One Way or Another. Call Me. Rapture."

November 11, 2003, the boys of GORE are discussing the nature of GORE's public forums. Sam's friend, Doghouse, makes the point that what gets posted is public. He states that if he were to post naked pictures of his wife there, he wouldn't get mad at the other guys for looking at them. He then states he will never post said pictures on the forum, so the readers should not get their hopes up.

Well, the boys of GORE go off on a rant, and one of them asks why he would need naked pictures of Doghouse's wife. Sam replies: "Well, Dog's wife is fairly hot, so that is why u would need them. (unless u r teh homo and do not like hot chix)"

Then, on November 13, 2003, Sam clarifies his earlier post about the wife of Doghouse: "I say "fairly" hot because teh bible says some BS about not coveting thy neighbors wife. Since Dog is in my clan, I gotta think he doesn't really want me doing alot of coveting, you know?"

Remember that JP Harris complained about "sites with references to explicit sex, nudity and erotica." How about 'stiffies,' 'titties,' and man/sheep sex? Is that explicit enough?

Does this sound like a man who will suffer for the rest of his life because he saw some pornographic images? Remember, according to the Tribune, he said that under oath.

Sam Harris said: "The extent of [Smartt's] addiction is shocking."

Sam from GORE said:

5:16, p.m., on February 23, 2006. This is a work day. At 16 minutes after 5:00, he posted a lengthy, 13 paragraph essay about his online clan, LAG.

March 29, 2005, discussing his level of play on GORE, Sam says: "lol at anyone saying I don't play much. 1 to 6 hours a day for YEARS."

August 14, 2006, Sam says "I paid $17 for Gore and played 5,000 + hours. About $0.0034 is a good price. I will buy the new one even without MP just cuz I feel bad I have not even paid 1/2 a cent per hour of my game time on Gore."

October 29, 2003, discussing his level of play on GORE vs. what a value it is: "I have gotten 2 years and approximately 1.4 million hours of gameplay out of Gore for a cost of $17. It is teh best game ever created. I will buy anything 4D puts in a box just because of that. Joel can make my money for giving me this game. If Gore II comes out, well, that is like teh 2nd coming of Jesus. It is very good."

Sam Harris said:

He complained that Mike Smartt "used the Web sites during work hours on a county-owned computer."

Well, we don't know if "Sam" from GORE is Sam Harris the JP, nor can we sneak through JP Harris's history file like he did to Smartt's, but we can take a look to see if "Sam" from GORE was posting during normal work hours. Aside from the several instances already mentioned above, what do we have?

We have a reference to a "cum dumpster" on August 17, 2006, at 1:24, p.m. That's a Thursday afternoon.

How about May 29, 2006, at 2:53, p.m., a Monday afternoon, looking for "gayed up" video monitors?

On Monday morning, February 20, 2006, at 9:28, a.m., I was at work. "Sam" from GORE was online cracking jokes about "DNA samples" in folded up dollar bills.

On Tuesday, January 24, 2006, at 4:04, p.m., Sam is online telling his friends how he says "exactly" what he thinks in Court.

There is another example of "Sam" from GORE posting during normal work hours, but first we need a little background: GORE is played on "maps," or computer rendered environments. Sometimes users modify these maps, and these are called MODS. Sam's favorite MOD map is one called football that was made by his online friend, Lead, as he makes clear in this post from October 14, 2004, at 10:09, a.m. (incidentally, this was a Thursday, a workday). Apparently, the operators of Sam from GORE's favorite server were pulling Lead's map off the server, and Sam didn't like that:

As Thanksgiving approaches, I was making a list of things in life that I am
thankful for. Teh rough draft looked like this:
1) wife
2) kids
3) Lead's Football map
4) extended family
5) job
6) Gore
7) several
varieties of Doritos
8) [LAG]
9) various Pepsi products
10) Rob Zombie
Now, apparently I will have to revise teh list and take out Football. And actually, if I had been honest, it would have been #1. Why do you want to take joy out of Sam's life, Lead?
It must have been a slow Thursday at work that day because he is back at 10:10, a.m., to discuss the football map some more. Then, at 2:05, p.m., he's back, once again lamenting the loss of the football map:

Why would you want to deprive Sam of joy on Thursday, October 14, 2004, Cartman? Why? I will never get this day back, Cartman. And now, with your BS Football map, teh joy of this day will be forever diminished.

As of this writing, "Sam" from GORE had 343 posts up. It took me 15 minutes or so to find at least 7 examples of his posting videogame-related banality during regular business hours. Perhaps those county-owned computers aren't nearly as sancrosanct as some people hypocritically claimed.

Some people, real sticklers for the rules like Justice of the Peace Sam Harris, might suggest that it would be improper for a judge to publicly offer to engage in illegal conduct, or to suggest that others do so.

Sam from GORE said:

August 29, 2006, Sam's friend Doghouse is trying to find out the name of a heavy metal song. He posts the lyrics and Sam immediately replies: "Walk by Pantera on Vulgar Display of Power. I have it if u want it. If you like that shit I have a fair amount of it. Cuz I like that shit."

Is he offering to give his friend an electronic copy of a song? That would be illegal.

September 19, 2006, Sam's online friend is discussing a situation where an acquaintance was stalking her. Sam from GORE's solution? "Put him in a coulee, imo. (in my opinion)" The next day, September 20, 2006, Sam expands on his suggestion: "A coulee is a small valley or ravine. He should be dead before u put him there, or else he may crawl away, thereby causing u troubles. Also, you should place some big rocks on him so coyotes do not drag his bones around for hunters to find (also causing u troubles)."

Finally, you will remember way back at the beginning of this whole piece, I said that Mike Smartt had compassion for others. I think that is a good quality for a judge. Is "Sam" from GORE compassionate? Well, let's see. Mike Smartt killed himself on November 3, 2003, hanging himself shortly after midnight in a bathroom in the basement of a private club. That night, on the evening of November 3, 2003, Sam was posting on the forums. Just a few days after Mike Smartt committed suicide, after he died alone in the bathroom of a local bar, Sam was online, joking with his pals about taxes: "just wait until teh masterbation tax passes and all u fuxers are broke :)"

A lot of what is posted here is clearly very insignificant in its own right. I don't really care if a guy likes video games, or raunchy talk. Frankly, I don't even care that much if a public official uses the internet for fun during work if his job is getting done. But there is something unseemly, something fundamentally wrong about a man being driven to suicide while his accuser might well be engaging in conduct that is not all that far removed, if at all, from the conduct of the accused. Only one of them is still alive.

As "Sam" from GORE put it above, "teh bible has some BS about" judge not...lest ye be judged.


Anonymous said...

Glad you decided to post. Too much effort on your part to drop it at the end. Now, let the public decide.

The Raving Norseman said...

Time for a little bit of devil's advocacy.

The problems between Harris and Smartt become public in 2000. Smartt kills himself in 2003. Smack-dab in the middle of the brouhaha, a particularly vulgar man registers on a public forum with an obvious name and drops just enough detail to make it known who he's claiming to be, then proceeds to spend the next four years providing an easily traceable trail of prurient electronic immaturity and hypocritical dereliction of duty. That's pretty convenient.

I'm a big fan of Ockham's Razor, so I'm not going to construct an elaborate conspiracy theory. I'll just say that without IP addresses or other verifiable data, it's just as easy to claim --and equally difficult to actually prove-- that "sam" is a local lawyer out to deal some digital justice right before election time. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and all that.

I read your blog all the time and honestly respect your overall point of view, Geeguy, and I have a pretty good sense of your emotional connection to this situation. But I'm sorry to say this series of allegations backed up by hearsay based on innuendo forces me to question your judgment in this case.

GeeGuy said...

Actually, Norseman, do you really think Occam's razor supports your position?

Your theory requires the assumption of a dedicated enemy, who is willing to spend four years not only posting occasional off-color remarks to a forum, but also posting significant game related posts and spending a great deal of time actually playing the game. Your impersonator would even have to send a brochure to a fellow gamer (see the "Doghouse" post of 06-08-2006). He or she would have started before Mr. Harris won his last election, and would require a steady dedication for 4 years, as well as the assumption that the information would ultimately be found by someone who had access to publicity.

On the other hand, to conclude Sam from GORE is Sam Harris one needs only to assume that JP Harris is a somewhat hypocritical videogame fanatic.

You tell me what theory Occam's razor supports.

WolfPack said...

As far as the Occam’s razor theory argument goes score one for Geeguy. Although I have to say I somewhat see Norseman’s point. The GORE posts are so out there that it’s hard not to want there to be a different answer than the simplest one. As I’ve said before I don’t think Harris is responsible for Smartt’s death but to make callous jokes about it would show he is truly warped.

Couldn’t corroborating records off of Harris’s computer simply be requested from the county under the states sunshine laws? Geeguy this is your field, I would be happy to make the request.

Anonymous said...

I must remain anonymous on this topic for probably obvious reasons. However, to address your concerns, and as someone who has seen the entire file of documentation GeeGuy is referring to, please know that there is no question that this person is Sam Harris. The comments reflect things about him that we know, such as his personal musical tastes (heavy metal - he listens to Judas Priest at work) is one example. That's only one. It's also his tone and language use. He talks like this often in real life.

I don't know how better to put it - I'm just some anonymous person saying take my word for it. Why believe me?

Decide for yourself, but I for one can assure you that it is him without question.

Anonymous said...

Conspiracy theory? I think not, Norseman. I, too, must remain anonymous. However, I personally know that this information came to light only after someone affiliated with Harris' opponent's campaign googled "Steve Fagenstrom" to look for postings on Steve's candidacy. Then, this information popped up. Only once was "Steve Fagenstrom" referenced in the posts, when Harris wrote to his on-line cronies about his recent win in the election.
This "particularly vulgar man" IS Judge Harris. Personal friends of his can attest that he enjoys on-line gaming. And if this "vulgar man" was so hell-bent on getting Harris out of office, why would he post an address where people could contribute to the campaign???

The Raving Norseman said...


Your snippy response betrays your emotional attachment. My statements are from one who is not emotionally attached. My wording may not be lawyerly, but my point was that Ockham's Razor does not support an elaborate effort such as the one I present --but that lacking actual proof, your contentions aren't any better supported.

For the record, I don't generally buy into conspiracy theories. I think we've sent men to the moon. I think 9/11 unfolded pretty much the way the commission found. And to show you how completely nuts I am, I think Oswald was the lone gunman!

My point, which was obviously not clear enough, is that allegations, however detailed and persuasive, do not constitute proof. But I'm not a lawyer, so maybe I'm wrong.

I'm not interested in engaging in a blog comment pissing match. I have no dog in this fight. My entire experience with Harris is based on two hours as a juror last fall. For me, it was a positive experience, but I'm not stupid enough to think that gives me any insight at all into the man's character. You guys know him and hate him, and that's fine. I'm just saying as a disconnected outsider that these allegations aren't the slam-dunks you seem to think they are. A laundry list of allegations followed up by two anonymous people assuring me it's true isn't proof.

If Harris is as power-drunk and dangerous as you say he is --and I'm not saying he's not-- then your concern for the community might just be more important than your job security. I can understand why you don't want to reveal yourselves, but if your commitment to justice is limited to taking potshots from the shadows, your credibility is a tad limited as well.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I don't hate Sam Harris. I spent many years defending him in conversations like this because I did like him personally. Over the last few years, however, with each story about how he treated someone with utter contempt far beyond what would be considered reasonable, or just threw "fair" out the window, one's dedication to justice must outweigh how one personally feels about someone.
I was just trying to give you some more information. To those of us who know him, there's no question that he wrote those things. It's good that you give him the benefit of the doubt, but keep in mind that judges like jury trials because it's a great way to get voters into your courtroom and give them a good impression of you. It's indirect campaigning.
But hey, make up your own mind.

And I don't get how you characterize our criticism as "potshots." Did GeeGuy not document this enough for you? Are we all part of the conspiracy, making up all these stories to get him out of office?

Big Sky Husker said...

I don't subscribe to the Tribune. Has the local paper done an investigation about this?

Still Worried said...

Only a few short days ago a crazed gunman entered a Canadian college and opened fire killing several people. One of the noteworth things about that killer was that he spent what would be considered an inordinate amount of time playing a first person computer killing game. I am not just concerned about the crude language and vulguar ideas that Sam writes, I am worried about the mental position of someone who spends one to six hours everyday in fantasy murder of human beings. Is this person Sam Harris, Justice of the Peace? If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, has feathers like a duck, and has been acting like a duck for years before anyone questioned its status as a duck,... well, I know a duck when I see one. Scientific proof of duckhood seems pointless till the duck claims he is a swan.

Worried said...

Norseman, even accepting your concerns about a possible setup, the real issue here is who do you want making decisions in your court? If Sam Harris was not the JP no one would care about this game or the comments about it. I ask you, has Sam Harris, JP done a good job. a vast majority of those who have had experience in the Court would say no. The recent tribune article shed some light on the long standing problem. How could a person be arrested and put in jail if she had never been accused of a crime? MS. Freer was arrested and sent to the county jail without having been sited for any crime. The paper hinted that there was some sort of "contempt of court" but how can that be when there had been no hearing before her arrest. How could the JP have decided that she was "in contempt" without first having a hearing where evidence would prove that she had done something contemptous? In fact, the JP had her arrested so that he could make sure that she would attend the contempt hearing.
This JP has made it clear that he does not want to be the JP, he wants to be a District Judge. He waited until the last moment before giving up on running against the two current district candidates. He has stated that he will run against one of the judges in two years. I can hardly wait. As a district judge he will be arresting husbands and wives to ensure that they show up at thier custody hearings.

The Raving Norseman said...

Aw, jeez. Okay, I'll make one more comment, then I'm out of here per my previous stated desire to avoid a pissing match. But since my own credibility is taking a hit due to bad writing on my part and misinterpretation on the part of others, I feel compelled to make one more go.

Again, I was not alleging an actual conspiracy; I was simply pointing out that such an allegation could be made given the standards of proof being accepted here. Persuasion and proof aren't the same, but I repeat myself.

Does anyone know anymore what devil's advocacy is? Has it occurred to anyone here that I'm making my point in an effort to goad you into strengthening your arguments? Or are we such binary thinkers these days that there can only be one explanation for my failure to jump on the bandwagon?

Hey, I'll accept the blame for writing my first comment so poorly as to give the opposite impression than what I was trying to convey, but I'm not sure how many times I'm supposed to say I don't think there was a conspiracy before some of you will believe it.

I respect geeguy and his point of view, and in particular his backbone.

Worried said...

Sam's posts are sort of gone, but the discussion threads are still there and you can still find some of SAM's posts because they are quoted in other people's messages. to read the messages that are still there, just use the Search tool and type SAM, the threads where the quotes are still present will be shown.
Norseman, I am sure we all understood your point, and certainly I was not arguing to the contrary (ok, I was) and you are correct, ther isn't much more than circumstantial proof here, nothing is 100% certain, but ....

a-fire-fly said...

Just one question.
If this was all set up to frame Sam Harris WHY have all posts BEEN REMOVED BY THE GAME ADMINISTRATORS?

Joe Briggs said...

I became aware of the posts in Mid June from an anonymous source.

My concern was whether or not County computers and Internet access was being used in an inappropriate manner. I utilized the posts to generate a list of involved URL locations and had the IT department place monitoring traps on those sites.

Since the accusations involved an official who also utilized the State Internet Access system, traps were placed on those circuits as well.

I have no way of knowing for certain who posted the materials on the GORE forum site, but due to the inactivity of the traps, I can be sure that at least since mid June, no County Computers have been used to access these sites.

Since up until now the existence of the traps were known only to myself and our IT Network staff, I think it unlikely any of these posts were done from County equipment. There would have been no reason for the individual doing the posts to have changed their pattern of use.

The county now has an acceptable internet use policy as well as the tools and expertise to monitor Internet use. I would note we handled the accusations against Justice Harris as we would have the same accusations against any other employee. In this case, no action was taken because we have no evidence the posts involved County equipment.

The content of the posts and authorship of the posts are in the hands of the electorate to judge at this point.


GeeGuy said...

It is my understanding that Justice of the Peace Sam Harris admitted to the Great Falls Tribune that he authored the posts, and that he acted to have them all removed from the 4Drulers servers.

allen said...

With all due respect, Sam Harris did not kill Mike Smartt; Mike Smartt did. I am not sure that anyone will know all of his reasons, but I suspect that the loss of his judicial position and the ensuing fallout did have a lot to do with it.

It might also have involved his struggle with his own homosexuality and its impact on his life. I would agree with the poster who said earlier that there may have been a deeper mental problem at issue. Commenting on the Foley matter, Andrew Sullivan has written, and I agree, that the closet is a dangerous place for people, and those tormented by their own sexuality can exercise incredibly poor judgment.

It is seriously poor judgment for a sitting judge to use government property to look at porn during working hours. It is phenomenally poor judgment for a married man under fire for these acts to be receiving anonymous blowjobs at a local porn store during the height of the investigation against him. And it is not out of line to suggest that there could have been some deeper issues there.

Mike Smartt approached me for a position at my firm not too long before his death. I politely declined to consider him. Not because of his sexuality, obviously (I suspect that part of the reason for his interest had to do with my own sexuality, which I do not hide), but because I believe, as do my partners, that poor judgment is a very bad trait in an attorney, and one not often correctable, no matter how accomplished and wise the mentor. I could have decided otherwise, and helped him deal with his personal and professional issues, but I didn't. Tell me, gg, am I responsible for his death?

I understand that he was your friend. I am sorry that you lost him. But I wonder, when all is said and done, if you will find your monte cristo-esque revenge to be as sweet as you had hoped. Perhaps, if you have lost your objectivity and become a true believer in your own self-righteous crusade, you will.

GeeGuy said...

Allen, I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Your points are certainly legitimate, whether I agree with all of them or not.

If you think, though, that this is all about some "monte cristo-esque revenge" for Mike Smartt's suicide, you are completely mistaken and I have done a very poor job of expressing myself. Likewise if you think I find this whole incident "sweet."

One thing that is lost in your post is any discussion of the conduct of our current judge. For you see, if I just wanted to attack Sam Harris, his own vulgarity would have garnered just as much attention with or without the "History Lesson."

But there's the rub. You see, in and of itself, I don't think Harris's conduct is all that significant. When you consider it in light of his self-righteous attacks on Smartt, then it looks differently, doesn't it? When you consider it in light of someone who will judge another worthy of lost liberty for unpaid debts it begins to look differently. When you consider it coming from a judge who has imprisoned people for traffic offenses, then it becomes relevant.

You also term this a "self-righteous crusade." Again, I must not have communicated well. I am not righteous, far from it. "I would submit that most, if not all of us, have our own personal demons hiding back in the dark somewhere. Most of us keep them there and lead happy and productive lives, perhaps tormented on the occasional sleepless night."

I also don't think that Sam Harris killed Mike Smartt. I think that Sam Harris purposely destroyed his credibility and reputation.

But the bottom line is this. JP Harris said these things in public. Also, in public (and under oath) he claimed to be deeply harmed by seeing some pornographic images on a computer screen. You are suggesting that he be allowed a double life...either that or it is some sort of "self-righteous crusade."

No, you're wrong Allen. This is not sweet revenge.

WolfPack said...


The oddity of this discussion is that some of the things you find most troubling about Harris are the same things I like about him (Jail for not paying court ordered debts or for traffic violations). The part where you hook me though is when you point out Harris’s ability to morph his sensitivities to fit the objective at hand. This might make a good plaintiff’s attorney but it is very troubling for a judge. Q: How do you tell when a lawyer is lying? A: His lips are moving. This old joke is where Harris’s reputation is now sitting. I do not like the idea of a firm judicial hand as described above being wielded by a judge with a serious case of situational ethics. Also, too much effort in this post has been spent on arguing the troubles or lack of troubles of Mr. Smartt as if his problems justified the actions of Mr. Harris. I do not buy into the equation “Smartt Bad = Harris Good”.

The Raving Norseman said...

Now it's been proven. The list of posts were still just allegations until someone could produce airtight confirmation through something like computer usage records or a confirmation by Harris. He's done that, so now we're in the realm of fact. That's all I've been saying. I apologize for the clumsiness with which I tried to make that point.

allen said...

Thank you, gg, for your considered response to my comment. My comment did not include any discussion of JP Harris' behavior, because it was not my intention in posting to assume the mantle of his defender, but rather to share my perspective on where ultimate responsibility for Mike Smartt's death lies, which does seem to be a motivating factor in your series, since you have stated that the conduct currently at issue is not particularly significant in and of itself, but only in juxtaposition to Harris' statements and actions in relation to the Smartt issue.

However, I will take the implicit invitation and do so now, if only for the purpose of dispelling the homogeneity of the comments to your series. But first, a disclaimer of my potential bias: I socialize very occasionally with JP Harris; he is the friend, and work supervisor, of my husband. One of his campaign signs is in my yard.

I cannot speak to his courtroom demeanor, as I do not practice in front of him. I can attest that he has an admirable work ethic, and puts in many, many hours on the job, so that dereliction of duty is not a proper charge to lay against him. I also can attest that he is in no way homophobic.

I also am idealistic when it comes to the standards I would impose on the judiciary. I am a student of judicial ethics. I am a member of the judicial relations committee of the state bar.

I agree that his posted comments were vulgar.

I also agree that they were public, in the sense that anyone who plays Gore online could see them, and that, since the internet is a public medium, one could come across them through search engines. But I would respectfully submit that there are different degrees of "public" in terms of exposure, and that these comments were not intended for a widespread, public audience. They were intended for a very small subset of the population: a group of friends who participate in a specific game through the medium of online play.

Until you published these forum comments, there was no adverse effect on the Montana judiciary as a result of them.

"Sitting judge makes vulgar statements in public." Is that technically correct? I would say so. Is it fair? I am not so sure. There is another way to view this:

It seems to me that outside of work, Harris enjoys his family and playing this game. He seems to suffer from the social isolation that comes, part and parcel, with the job of judge. A political opponent has invaded what appears to be his one interest, the one place where he could let down his guard, forget about his stressful job, and be, not Justice of the Peace Harris, but Sam from Conrad, a Montana guy with some rough edges, having fun and bantering with his friends.

To what extent should judges, being human, be allowed to be left alone with their private lives? This is a legitimate question. In answering it, regardless of how one would answer the Mike Smartt issue, which is separate and involved the use of public property and time, it is my opinion that your blog was an unjustified invasion.

I ask, only partly tongue in cheek, the following:

Will you be blogging next from the perimeter of elected officials' hunting camps on public land, to ensure that nothing offensive is said in the tent by elected officials who have gotten their elk and are having a beer at the end of a long October day?

a-fire-fly said...

GeeGuy can defend himself, I am not attempting to do that. However from my point of view, Harris' actions were more potentially public that Smartts, and the part that I consider most offensive is the fact that he attested, under oath, how damaged he was by viewing those images on Smartts computer.
I cannot accept that the man who posted on Gore could have honestly been that affected by the images on that computer. If it had not been for that one simple fact, I would not have supported this.

Anonymous said...

As an attorney who knows all the parties involved, it is my conclusion that the entire community owes geeguy a debt of gratitude. I don't say this lightly.

Sam "from Gore" Harris clearly does not have the proper judicial temperment to be sitting in judge of others. There are plenty of examples of this right out of his courtroom. You'll likely be seeing more come to light in the press as more and more of his victims come forward.

He is a liability to the Cascade County and to the taxpayers. He has cost the County money in civil penalties and there's more yet to come.

He has lost the respect of the legal community as well as the public. He has harmed the office he occupies. The County Commissioners should "ask" Sam from Gore to immediately resign in the interest of damage control.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to the ecity blogger, who has provided a huge service to the public and should be commended. Sam Harris is a pious hypocrite who has no business being a judge let alone a lawyer. Hopefully the public will render its own judgment against him in November and boot him out of office.

Anonymous said...

Well, all of this pretty clearly exposes what a buffoon many of us have long thought Sam Harris to be.

GeeGuy, good show. It seems bloggers can make a difference.

Anonymous said...

Would the Tribune have covered this without the blogger buzz? I don't think so.
It is clear that Harris is a hypocrite and unfit for office. He should resign to spare the County and himself further embarrassment.
Thanks geeguy and Firefly for this much needed airing of some soiled laundry!

Worried said...

Allen said: "A political opponent has invaded what appears to be his one interest, the one place where he could let down his guard, forget about his stressful job, and be, not Justice of the Peace Harris, but Sam from Conrad, a Montana guy with some rough edges, having fun and bantering with his friends."

This misstatement must be corrected. NO ONE INVADED ANYTHING OF SAM'S!. This was not a case of someone walking into Sam's office or home and exploring his computer. Sam posted a message in a public forum in such a manner that anyone and everyone doing a Google search on his opponent, Mr. Fagenstrom, would find Sam's post about the election results. Anyone with any additional curriosity about why election results would be posted in such a fourm could and did easily read the rest of the messages by Sam and everyone else on the Forum. It is my understanding that someone, wanting to know the Election numbers did exactly that and was dismayed at what they found. In one sense, Sam opened up the forum to everyone by posting the election results so that anyone looking for them would find that post and thus have access to all the others. Simply stated, his bragging was his undoing

Anonymous said...

Let me add this to the dialogue. Personally, I don't really care that Judge Sam "Gore" Harris is by his own admission addicted to a mind-numbing, violence-filled video game. In fact, I don't really care if he's vulgar, likes porn, or gay porn or whatever. Those qualities do not necessarily DQ him from being a JP. HOWEVER, what I hear and what I read about Judge Gore's scornful attitude on the bench, his explosive temper and his lack of basic respect and compassion for other human beings causes me GREAT CONCERN! This is not a man who should be sitting in judge of you or me or your 16 year old son or daughter who gets an MIP or some other misdemeanor. This man has a personality disorder and/or a temper disorder and/or worse.

We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg here people. Don't be naive.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Allen!

It's nice to see your 'spin.' I just saw your buddy Sam Harris on tv making his contrition speech and, whatta ya know, he's talking from the same talking points as you. Exact same things. How long did it take you guys to dream these up? Or are you really Sam Harris?

What a f*cking joke.

Big Sky Husker said...

GeeGuy - thank you for getting this story out.

Anonymous said...

I saw the Sam/Allen "side of the story" last night on TV. Not only is Harris a devious pathological liar, he is a grade A actor deserving of an Oscar. This is a VERY dangerous guy to have in any position of power or authority.

Allen said...


What happened to the other blog entry you made yesterday; the one where you said you were going to the concert, would respond to some of the comments when you got back, and wondered why justice court was closed yesterday?

I posted my third (and final, probably to the relief of your readers) perspective on this issue as a comment to that entry a little after noon today, went to Home Depot to pick up some nails and when I got back, the blog entry was gone, along with my rather lengthy comment.

I hope you are just editing your entry to discuss the issue some more and haven't deleted it entirely. Please don't tell me that my comment is gone. For a lunch hour exposition on the fly, I thought it was fairly good. It is hard to find situations where the Lord of the Flies provides a useful analogy! It'll be a chore to reconstruct the piece.

Also, as requested, please affirm for those of your readers who haven't figured out my identity from my posting of my first name, my self-identification as an attorney, and the fact that I am a guy who is married to another guy, that I am a real person.


Anonymous said...

Allen: you say that Harris is not prejudiced toward homosexuals???? How do you explain his repetitive use of the slurs "fag" and "homo" (used as insults), and his characterization of the rainbow flag as "B.S."? Maybe he has you and your partner-his employee, no?-fooled by his pleasantries, but here, words speak louder than actions. I think his true feelings on homosexuals, women, "welfare slugs," "squishy liberals" and everyone else that he elevates himself above are quite apparent. Oh, and don't forget his opinion regarding the "poor fools" who line his coffers via their somehow inferior marriages. Wake up!

allen said...


I really really am not trying to hijack this thread. Not to mention every minute I put in here means my work day will run later.

But you asked why I believe Harris isn't homophobic, so here goes.

1. I had a frank discussion with him about it a while ago.

2. Our families have socialized on occasion. In contrast, I wonder if GeeGuy would bring his family over for a barbecue, since his June posts suggest that he thinks his sons need protection seeing me and my husband holding hands in public.

3. Harris and my husband are friends.

Side rant: I note you used the term partner, while I use the term husband. We were married in Canada a year ago, and have a legally recognized union, as long as we drive 2 hours north. Thank you, Canada!

back to business: I think your question is legitimate: Why would a non-homophobe use the words "homo and fag" the way he has?

My answer: It's a cultural thing. Lots of people - especially men - do it, out of old habit or as a form of banter, who bear no actual animus or lack of tolerance against gays. Even my niece, who booed at anti-gay protestors while driving by in her hometown of Portland, and whose thrillingly nonchalant response to finding out about my sexuality was "So?", occasionally says "That's so gay!"

Do I approve of such usages? No. But I recognize the difference between those and genuine animus toward gays. So my response to the same is usually "Big Deal!" When you are gay (or bisexual, like me) you learn to distinguish.

I know homophobia. It's threatened violence in a bar parking lot. It's vandalism to your vehicle. It's not ever speaking to you when you sit at the same table at the lunch club you have both belonged to for years. It's the look of hate you see in a nicely dressed woman's eyes when she stares balefully at you for long minutes because you have the temerity to dance with your spouse at the Wine and Food festival. Yeah I know it when I see it. I don't see it in Harris.

a-fire-fly said...

Just a comment since GeeGuy is unavailable.

You do not have to be a homophobe to use insulting forms of speech concerning alternative lifestyles, or anything else. Harris seems to have been a pretty equal opportunity insulter. As you stated.

Allen, he did say under oath that an image of male gay porn caused him to be sick to his stomach. Did you ask him about that? Or was that only gay porn on a County owned computer?

I also have it on good authority that Allen is in fact a real person, as he has stated. He has also posted the "lost post" on my site if anyone else is interested.

Anonymous said...

I work at the courthouse and yesterday when I was leaving I found a flyer on my car. It had Sam Harris with a circle around it with a line drawn through it. I just thought maybe some would like to know.

Anonymous said...

Chapter 9.36 of the city code Posting of Advertising Matter

9.36.010 It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to tack, nail or
otherwise attach any placard, poster, picture, printed matter or any type of
literature or advertising to any public utility poles, or to any City
property, including but not limited to trees, shrubs, fixtures, or
structures of the City, within the City limits of the City.

GeeGuy said...

Don't look at me. I was in Missoula.

ZenPanda said...

belated congrats on making the trib front page!
This was a great series.