Gallatin County Justice Court Judge Rick West has done a great disservice to equal justice under the law by coddling Greg Gianforte for his unprovoked attack on journalist Ben Jacobs. West said, “In keeping with my standards of the time I’ve been a judge, I think some jail time here would be appropriate.”
I agree, so what happened? First, West tried to convert Gianforte’s four-day jail sentence to two days in the work program. Incredibly, he had to be reminded that the work program was not available to those like Gianforte who had committed a violent crime. Thinking fast about how to save Gianforte from equal justice under the law, the dread four days, Judge West then sentenced the wealthiest man in the U: .S.. House of Representatives to a soft bed of anger classes and community service.
This is a signal, loud and_clear, nationally and internationally, that assault on the press is not subject to real punishment. Gianforte lied to the media that Jacobs grabbed him first. The crime was egregious on several levels for someone now in a position of public trust, something Judge West didn’t take into account in his fear of applying the law to the guilty party.
There’s a really pretty civilized penalty for the assault crime to which Greg Gianforte pleaded guilty. Judge West says he normally sentences them to four days in jail. OK, lock him up, like any other offender. Gianforte needs to wear the orange suit for four days and use the stainless seatless toil_et in the middle of the room. I’ll bet he’s more polite to cellmates who have questions about the CBO report on Republican health care. I was the guest of a couple counties on stuff just like this and got along fine. That’s our work force in there. Jail is very educational.
Gianforte will be a useless pariah in Congress, but the darling of the Trump administration. Both our precious Republicans, Gianforte and Daines, appear afraid of their constituents, feeling safer phoning it in and appearing in choreographed events by invitation only.
Unfortunately, Montana justice did not prevail and Judge West let the rich man walk. Now that they have a compliant judge, Gianforte’s bevy of lawyers will try to avoid normal booking and mugshot entirely, slapping due process on the way out. The judiciary is the strongest and smallest of the U.S. Constitutional checks and balances, but requires courage in its judges, who aren’t really immune from politics and pressures as our founders designed.