9/29/2006

Why write "A History Lesson?"

I have discussed with many people close to me the last segment of this 'series.' It is potentially volatile information. The usual question? Why are you doing this?

I've thought about that question a lot. I guess I would do it for my friends, and others, who have been treated unfairly.

I would do it for my long-time, high school buddy, John. John is a good man and a good friend. I had to stand with him in Justice Court while he was insulted and accused of vile conduct way beyond the scope of the charges against him...by the judge. I watched him ordered to pay restitution based on inadmissible evidence.

I think of another friend, Tom, who did jail time on a careless driving charge.

Then there's those people who have been imprisoned for failure to pay civil debts, in violation of Article II, Section 27 of the Montana Constitution.

There are all those stories one hears about excessive sentences, rude conduct, and lack of judicial temperament.

And of course, there was a friend of mine, Mike Smartt, who was publicly humiliated and driven to suicide by what might well have been feigned indignation.

There is a great deal of pressure on me in my personal life to stop now, to not post the last piece. I'll be out there on an island, they say.

"The public has a right to know what's going on in the county with our elected county officials," said JP Sam Harris.

If I post it, I will do it this weekend.

UPDATE: On further consideration, I agree with Justice of the Peace Harris. The public has a right to know.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

You will not be on an island, unless its populated by all of us who see this situation the same as you. Yes, you better be damn careful as you traverse the Justice Court, but this is still a free country, the First Amendment still provides that you have a right to your speech, and Sam Harris is a vengeful person. I commend you for your courage, I am just sorry the Tribune doesn't do this story. The newspapers, especially our local one, apparently has lost the ability to do investigative reporting, or to report a story that may bring hostility to it from a person like Sam Harris.

The Trib won't report on the County Attorney's office either. For example, the County ATtorney's office has lost two rape cases, one by aquittal, one by dismissal in the 11th hour, in the last month! THe PD finally has enough money to actually conduct investigations that show shoddy police work, conclusory actions with no evidence or not enough evidence to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and the resources to hire experts that blow their experts out of the water. So much that happens in our little community happens with no light of day ever shining upon it.

Let the light shine!

Anonymous said...

OK – I admit, Blogs are new to me. I feel a little voyeuristic reading your articles and comments without participating, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I live in Wisconsin now, so I enjoy hearing about what’s happening in and around my hometown. Your “History Lesson” is especially intriguing to me. As a conservative living in what we refer to as “the people’s republic of Madison”, a city that consistently makes the news for it’s liberal viewpoints, I have become a little jaded (read judgmental). I believe that people who break the rules should be punished. Period. And honestly, if I had read about Mike Smartt’s story in the GF Tribune, I would have probably thought he deserved to be removed from office. But I’m glad you have written this piece, because it reminds me of a couple of things. One, there is always more to a story than what you read in the paper, and secondly, and more importantly, each of us is responsible for our own actions. I wonder if Harris feels the weight of his actions? He must have known, even revelled in the fact that he would be destroying his rival. But does he take responsibility for Mike Smartt’s life? Does he have an appreciation for the damage he did? I mean we aren’t taking about justifiable actions here. Judge Smartt wasn’t molesting children or embezzling money. He was viewing pornography.

We each have the opportunity to help those around us succeed or to help those around us fail by our words and actions. While I’m certainly not dealing with anything of this magnitude, your article has made me think about that. Do I give people around me the benefit of the doubt? Do I take full responsibility for the comments I make daily? Are my negative comments constructive or just negative?

Anyway – thanks again for the thought-provoking articles. I’m looking forward to reading more.

Susan Lembo

Anonymous said...

Geeguy, having gone this far already, do you have a commitment to finish the story? That is your decision, and you must weigh the consequences.

I feel that Sam Harris is unfit to occupy the office he holds, and I know many others who feel the same. Whether there will be enough votes to oust him is in question.

Make the decision that your "gut" tells you is the right one - that is all anyone can do. The full story needs to be told - and the Tribune won't tell it.

Thank you for bringing this to light once again and exposing "Judge-mental" Harris as the vindictive incompetent he is.
I know you'll understand that I have to be "Anonymous" on this one.

Treasure State Jew said...

Geeguy; First, I think it takes a great deal of courage for a practicing attorney to write a series like this when the judge in question serves on a bench before whom you might be called upon to advocate. I appreciate that courage.

Personally, I have learned a great deal from your history "lessons." Most of us don't spend much time in the courtrooms, and the judges serving there are mysteries to us; I only knew of Judge Harris by what I read in the paper. You have illuminated my opinion on both his character and his competence by your posts.

At the end of the day, we all can only do what we think is right. Let that moral compass guide you.

Aaron

Meghan said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I will reside on the island with you. I invite all who are angered by Harris' actions to put a sign in their yard or business for STEVEN FAGENSTROM, Harris' challenger and/or tell their friends to vote for Steve. We can do something to get this man out of office. Call me at 899-5763. I will personally deliver a sign to you.

Wulfgar said...

I for one, find it a breach of responsibility for you to offer us an object-history lesson and not provide the moral of the story. If you fail to come forth with the remainder, I shall have to refer you to David Horowitz as the example of a 'liberal instructor'.

Okay, not really. I have had it clarified to me recently that blogging might have real-life consequences when you cross the petty and vindictive. All you have to rely on at that point is the weight of the facts, the courage of your convictions, and the faith that the universe will recognize that you've done the right thing. That's small comfort, sometimes, but very important when you look yourself in the mirror. Do what will serve you best. I wish you good will in your decision, and will continue to read your thoughts, either way.

If you decide that you won't post the remainder, however, please just let us (your readers know).

(For the record, we may never end up calling each other "friend", but I truly respect and admire what you've already posted with this series, and comments you've made elsewhere. Thank you.)

Bill said...

Post it, Geeguy. This is an important story to get out there. It's not about being conservative or liberal, defense-minded or prosecution-minded. It's about fairness, integrity, and respect or the system and the people who appear in that court.
My estimation of you has gone up quite a bit after this series. Please continue.

Worried said...

Isn't it tragic that anyone would have to think twice about speaking thier mind. And yet, this is now the system that we have and one person is largely responsible for the trepidation that you hint at. A despot rules now and perhaps he will fall and perhaps he won't. I am doing everthing I can to bring about change. Many others are doing the same.
You have started your story for a reason and I believe you should tell it to the end.

a-fire-fly said...

When GeeGuy first approached me about this, one of the first thoughts I had was, why are you doing this? As we progressed, I got a feeling for why he is doing this.

"It's about fairness, integrity, and respect for the system and the people who appear in that court."

That right there about sums it up.

marvin said...

The courts of this nation can only truly function when all who enter are assured of being treated fairly. That is the point you are making with your comments.

Trust your instincts and have faith in the values you hold dear. The public does have a right to know. If what you wish to reveal is fact-based, then you will be treating your subject and the public fairly. All who have commented here share in their support for your effort.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Geeguy, did you really consider not finishing the story or was Harris your Damocles?

GeeGuy said...

I am not smart enough to fully understand the Damocles reference, but yes, I really considered not finishing it. I don't plan to explain why I changed my mind.