10/06/2006

Ooops.

Allen is correct. He posted a comment to a post of mine. I was going to edit my post and, in my haste to get out of town, I saved it rather than publishing it. Rather than reopening it, I will add his comment to this post, below, and respond to it here.

First, I will verify that I believe Allen is a real person. If he is who I think he is, we went to school together. I like him, and we have always gotten along fine.

I did not know he is gay until he posted on this site a few days ago. In one of the comments, he questions whether I would go to a barbecue at his house, implying that I would not socialize with a gay couple. Allen, have you ever invited me to a barbecue at your house? Do you know whether we have any gay friends? He further makes a reference to a June posting on this blog where I suggest that my "sons need protection from seeing [Allen and his] husband holding hands in public." I couldn't find that post, Allen. Maybe you can give me the date of it? I don't think I said it. I think I know the post you are referring to, but if I am right you took it out of context and changed it. I don't want to assume you would do that, so please tell me I am wrong.

Another person commented that Allen's points sound very similar to those that Sam Harris is making. I don't know if this is a concerted effort or not, but I am not going to get baited into allowing Allen and/or JP Harris to frame this as me against Harris.

I had to laugh when I read Allen's comment, below, because earlier that day I told my partner that the next thing we would hear would be "witch hunt," and, sure enough, Allen obliged. I am not a "political opponent" of Sam Harris. (I probably agree with him on most political issues) I don't think I gave Steve Fagenstrom money (I might have, I don't remember). I don't work with Fagenstrom's campaign. When I learned about Sam Harris's GORE activities, I viewed them in the context of what he said about and did to my friend, Mike Smartt. I wrote this for my 30 or so readers. I didn't go to the Tribune; they came to me.

So, don't try to put me on the defensive, Allen. Your friend typed everything that I printed. I did not make up a word of it. Not to sound corny, but this is America, I have the right to speak my mind, and I am not going to be cowed by a suggestion you and/or Sam Harris thought up to try to discredit me. He said the words. If it's really no big deal, as you are now spinning it, why attack the messenger? This is no witch hunt. I am not gleeful about any of this. It wasn't a 'revenge' thing.

I remember reading about Harris's testimony at Smartt's hearing. I remember disbelieving the testimony of a 30 year old Montana man when he implied he would be scarred for life by viewing some porn. I remember thinking that witnesses, but especially lawyers and judges, should respect the oath.

So now you talk about "Sam from Conrad, a Montana guy with some rough edges." Well, this "Montana guy" filed a sexual harassment complaint because he saw some porn. He testified, under oath that he was deeply disturbed by glancing at these images. Do you think that a voter could reasonably infer from Sam Harris's online comments that, perhaps, this fellow was less offended than he led everyone to believe? Do you think that is a fair inference? That, just maybe, a guy who talks about "banging away on a corpse" really wasn't all that harmed? Would it be fair to draw that conclusion? I am not asking you to agree with it, just whether it is a reasonable inference.

And, as a lawyer, you are familiar with hypotheticals. Assume for me that JP Harris's offense was contrived. Assume that he pretended to be more offended than he really was because he wanted Smartt out of the office. Assume that he knowingly exaggerated his level of discontent when he testified. Is that relevant to his continued seating on the bench?

I also think that it is spin that it's now just a public property issue. Granted, one of the complaints against Smartt was that he used public computers, but that wasn't the only complaint. But let's talk about that anyhow.

You say JP Harris was on his own time when he accessed the games and the forums. How do you know that? When is county time? Do you go home during the day often to post messages on a chat room? 9:30 in the morning, 2:00 in the afternoon, etc., etc. When is he being paid to work? And, I distinctly remember during the Smartt affair that Mike argued that he often worked at night, so it was ok to screw around some during the day. Is that argument good enough for Harris, but not for Smartt?

More spin: "Explicit porn is different from written vulgarity." Why? Because you say so? Couldn't one argue that creating the mental image of a man with a sheep is just as 'bad' as passively looking at photographs of sex?

Look, this isn't all about hypocrisy, or sex, or locker room talk. This is about a gentleman who testified under oath that he saw, I believe, three pornographic images and, as a result, suffered extreme harm. His testimony and actions resulted in another man losing his position. I believe it is fair to look at public statements of the accuser to determine the likelihood he was harmed. Put it this way. I think Channing Hartelius, Mike Smartt's lawyer, would certainly have been able to cross-examine Harris over the statements he made on the GORE forum as a way of attacking the credibility of Harris's claims of harm.

One other point. You have been silent about Judge Harris's statement about the Pantera song. "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." When Judge Harris says "I have it if you want it," do you not read that to mean he is offering to give his friend the song? That's illegal. Is that something a voter has a right to be concerned about in this race?

Allen, I have no personal quarrel with you. As I said, I have always liked you. Am I perfect? No, I'm not. Have I done things I am ashamed of over the years? Sure. Does that mean I cannot comment on a judicial race?

I've reprinted your comment below. You have had your say. If you wish to discuss this further, I would happy to do it by email or even personally. But I do not maintain this site as a forum for Sam Harris to get his spin out. These sites are free for the asking; just go to Blogger. If you want to start another site in Harris's defense, please do so. Hell, I'll even give you a link. But I am pretty well done with this whole sorry thing.

7 comments:

allen said...

GeeGuy, I hope you didn't put my name in quotes because you believe, like one of your readers does, that I may be the embattled JP himself. Since I identified myself as an attorney, gave my first name, and indicated I am a guy married to another guy, I figured that, in spite of the fact that my practice currently involves litigation primarily in other jurisdictions, most people associated with the legal community in Great Falls could figure out who I am. For the rest of your readers, maybe you could assist with a "Yeah, he's real and I went to law school with him" affirmation. [insert smiley face emoticon here]

I had intended my last comment to indeed be the last, but beg the indulgence of you and your readers for one more, to offer some additional food for thought. It is not my intent to hijack your thread, and I am not the "Avatar O' Sam" that some might think.

It does appear that your fears of being on an island have been unrealized. Indeed, it is I who find myself feeling like Simon, stumbling into the fire circle, my lone voice saying "There's no monster here" being drowned out by the strident cries of "Kill the Beast!" You know, if one is going to have a witch hunt, I would agree that October would be the appropriate month, but witch hunts have been considered passe by polite society for some centuries now. So, I would ask that your readers take a deep breath, lower their torches and pitchforks a bit, and consider my points. I am , I hope, a reasonable man with a somewhat different opinion.

My problem with your history lesson stems from its outrage at Harris' hypocrisy; its underlying assumption that his forum postings are at odds with and despicable because of his actions in the unfortunate Smartt incident.

I think one of your anonymous posters hit the nail on the head. The real, legitimate, fair issues of this judicial campaign have nothing to do with the Gore posts.

Whether a judge has the appropriate judicial demeanor to sit on the bench is a legitimate issue in his election. Judges should work hard to appear impartial and temperate in their dealings with those before the court, whether lawyer or layperson. I have no quarrel with anyone with a bad experience leveling such a claim against this or any other sitting judge.

I also believe that a high error rate or a demonstrated history of improper use of judicial power are legitimate reasons for criticizing a campaigning judge. It is true that the legal system recognizes that judges are human and will make mistakes (hence the right to appeal, and fact that the court of final resort is made up of a panel of judges). It is also true that there are remedies for abuse of power. But a judge who is consistently wrong or acts in excess of hisjurisdiction is a detriment to the legal system. Again, this is fair game, although fairness ought to require a full investigation into any particular case before criticism, especially since a sitting judge cannot comment on pending matters.

You have these sorts of problems with JP Harris? Blog away, then, I say! I may or may not agree with you on the merits, but I certainly agree they are appropriate topics for determining his judicial fitness.

The Gore postings are another matter.

Firefly has said that she cannot reconcile Harris' blog remarks with his public statements in the Smartt matter about he was affected by what he saw. I don't have any knowledge of Harris' mental state. All that I can offer is an observation and tangential anecdotal evidence. My observation: the human mind is an incredibly complex thing, and not always susceptible to easy interpretation or prediction. My anecdote: I have a friend who is a police officer. On occasion, when we are having a beer together, he has made statements, even jokes, that might seem insensitive, even callous, to criminals and even victims. Yet this is a guy who is a great officer, who truly cares about people and law and doing his job right. Making the occasional off-color comment is part of the way he handles the stress of dealing, day in and day out, with the sordid crime and senseless pain that it is his lot see, to investigate, to try and prevent.

Harris is only a hypocrite if he is guilty of doing what he condemned in Smartt. But it does not take a refined legal mind to see that there are substantial, meaningful differences in the nature of the conduct of Smartt and Harris. Explicit porn is different from written vulgarity. Using a work computer is different from using a home computer. Using work time is different from using personal time. And exposing your employees to explicit porn is different from making statements on a small community forum which fit the accepted tenor of that forum.

There is, of course, a broad label that can be placed on both sets of acts: internet improprieties. But the significant differences in nature of the compared acts nullifies any legitimate claim of hypocrisy.

Well, at least as to Harris, anyway.

What did GeeGuy say:

"Harris's accusations destroyed Mike Smartt. After the scorn and humiliation heaped upon him by Harris and others, he could no longer sit in judgment of others. Once it became public, it became over....

[W]hat struck me (and many other lawyers I have talked to) about the whole affair was how unnecessary it all was. It was Judge Harris's public rendition of it all that destroyed Mike Smartt's ability to judge. Mike Smartt's credibility was systematically and purposefully destroyed.

Had this matter been handled between two, rational adult human beings, Mike Smartt could well be alive today. Imagine if, instead of creating a public furor from his own offense and righteousness, Judge Harris had instead confronted Smartt privately and, failing that, privately sought the admonishment of others to implore Smartt to take his problems home, away from his chambers. If Smartt had still insisted in engaging his desires at the Courthouse, couldn't we then at least credit Harris for trying to solve the problem in a way less damaging to the man and the office?"

So, according to GeeGuy, what Harris did wrong was discover the internet improprieties of a sitting judge and take it public rather than discuss it with him privately in an attempt to resolve the issue fairly to him and the office of JP.

What has GeeGuy done here?

Yeah, you know where this is going.....

GeeGuy has discovered the internet improprieties of a sitting judge and taken it public, in an admitted attempt to destroy the judge, rather than discuss it with him privately in an attempt to resolve the issue fairly to him and the office of JP.

Yeah, I do smell the foul odor of hypocrisy here. But it's not coming from the JP's office, is it?

Okay, I am done. And GG, that last point was not intended as a personal attack, for we have always had a friendly rapport, but as a hopefully legitimate perspective on the frailties that I perceive with your position on this issue. You have a fine blog here. Take care, and enjoy the concert!

-A

Anonymous said...

GeeGuy - I'm grateful to you & the other blogger (I'm bad with names!) who reported this information. I really do hope it doesn't get swept under the carpet. Sam Harris should do the right thing, and step down. At the very least he will not get my vote. It's clear that Allen (who I don't know, but then I don't know any of you!) is a friend of Sam Harris and will defend him.

Overall, I just wanted you to know that I'm quite grateful that it was brought to light. I found your blog from the GF Tribune and I'll continue to read.

Anonymous said...

I logged into 4D forum to see if Sam was foolish enough to talk again. It now says he has 5 posts, but none can be viewed. I looked at the registration page, thinking I might be able to register and have better access. I thought this was an interesting part of the registration agreement:

"By agreeing to these rules, you warrant that you will not post any messages that are obscene, vulgar, sexually-orientated, hateful, threatening, or otherwise violative of any laws."

I guess that rule wasn't enforced very well.

Anonymous said...

As for your allegation of hypocrisy-consider that Sam Harris chose a public forum with his posts. He chose that public forum-not Geeguy. Geeguy didn’t go bump the mouse on Sam’s desk and then make up a phoney story about how he’d been shocked by what he accidently saw as he was going about his business. Sam made his own bed-and now that he has to lie in it-he can’t cry hypocrisy. This blog has been about Sam’s chosen actions in his own chosen forum.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that this blog is not about Sam's comments to his buddies. This blog is about a JP that has been bad for the bench, bad for the bar, bad for the County and bad for the people that elected him.


This blog is about a JP that has no dignity and offered none to the people that appeared in his Court. It is about a JP that has only a vague understanding of the law and has no understanding of professionalism or ethics. It is about the liability incurred by the people of this County because his ego was to large to hire an interpreter. It is about the liability that will be raised in civil rights claims for unlawfully jailing people for not paying debts. It is about the burden on the District Courts because of the appeals from the JP Court.

It is about poor judgement by a man we still have to call Judge –and is holding himself out as deserving of being elected to another term.

The Torte said...

So, GeeGuy responds and Allen disappears? What's up with that?

Taxpayer Joe said...

The comments made on Gore by Sam play to the very heart of this manner.

They clearly show that fabrications were told in court as to the harm caused by the viewing of porn on Smartts computer when Harris violated the privacy of Smartt.

Furthermore Harris has cost this county $11,000 dollars for his blatant discrimination against the hearing impaired couple when they went to be married. Not to mention the recent lawsuit for throwing a person in jail for not paying a debt. Last I recall there were no such thing as debtors prisons in the US anymore. Maybe Harris was too traumatized by his own talking about porn to realize this. ::rolleyes::

His contempt for doing his job of performing marriage cermonies for the people is shown by his derogatory comments he made about subject and is unacceptable. This action alone shows he needs thrown out of office and action taken against him by the Supreme Court.

He has lost all trust and confidence from the community for his actions.