Why did the Bozeman prosecutor roll over for Gianforte?

A crucial question was tweeted by the MTPR news director yesterday:: Had Ben Jacobs been the body slammer and the candidate the body slam-ee, would Jacobs have avoided jail time altogether? The answer is almost certainly No.

And yet at Gianforte’s court hearing on Monday, Marty Lambert, the Republican Bozeman prosecutor who must run for election every four years, sought no jail time for Gianforte and put up little resistance to Gianforte’s defense team’s maneuvers.  Lambert never even requested that Gianforte perform community service or anger counseling, as the Judge ultimately ordered.  Lambert sought only a deferred sentence and a $385 fine.  A traffic ticket, in essence.

The question leading into this event was whether power and wealth get Gianforte less punishment than an ordinary citizen would receive, and the answer is now certainly YES.  First, Gianforte was not arrested initially for having body slammed Ben Jacobs.  He was instead written a citation and allowed to walk, despite several credible witnesses telling cops that Gianforte violently attacked him unprovoked.  Lambert praised this police decision.

Lambert also made no objection to Gianforte’s request that he be allowed to forego the “booking” process.   Had an ordinary citizen been the defendant at yesterday’s circus, once the final sentence had been pronounced (40 hours community service, 20 hours anger management counseling), the defendant would have been  fingerprinted and mug-shotted, and then allowed to leave.   But Gianforte’s team prevailed upon the Judge to consider, at a later date, the merits of whether Gianforte should have to undergo booking.  And Lambert made no objection to their motion.   So it’s now to be argued and decided, at a later hearing, with briefs and arguments, the absurd question of whether he should be processed like everyone else who is sentenced to community service for having assaulted someone.

The question going forward as pertains to Lambert is whether this abysmal performance will cause him to draw and opponent in the 2018 race.   He has run unopposed for almost twenty years, a circumstance that owes itself to the fact that in the early days of Lambert’s career, Gallatin county was a solidly Republican electorate.  But it’s now pretty solidly Democrat.  Quist beat Gianforte in Gallatin; Bullock cleaned his clock there; Hillary beat Trump by 5 points.  Obama beat Romney.  Gallatin valley is now a Democratic valley and Bozeman a democratic town, and Lambert tried to play footsy with a defendant, because the defendant will soon be a powerful person. Lambert blinked. But now the question is, will anyone hold him–and thus hold Gianforte–accountable?



18 Comments on "Why did the Bozeman prosecutor roll over for Gianforte?"

  1. Of course the rich and famous get “special treatment” in court. Justice has never been equal in this country and is getting worse! If you are accused of a crime and are poor or black or anything but rich and white, don’t look for justice at the court house! You will wake up in prison serving time while the rich white guy walks and never spends a minute in jail! Discrimination is embedded in our courts and criminal justice system. People of color or from poverty are always sentenced to prison and longer sentences for the same crimes than the rich and/or white person accused of the same crime. Gianforte was always going to get a hand slap for his assault of a reporter, especially a “Liberal” reporter!

  2. Dear Cowgirl,
    Yes, a booking should have taken place, yet Progressive Cow needs to study the process better. A person or persons charged with a felony or felonies result in mug shots and fingerprinting, not misdemeanors, as progressive Cow falsely states. No I am not defending Joyzee Gianforte, but bad information is bad information.

    John Marshall

  3. so then why is gianforte resisting booking?

    • A mugshot can be used in a political ad, so he is obviously afraid of that. Whatever, I say just photoshop him into a mugshot in 2018 and see if he has the cajones to cry foul. That would bring up the fact that he is a violent criminal and that he avoided the regular procedure for violent criminals.

  4. Marty Lambert rolled over for Gianforte because Gov. Bullock failed to appoint Lambert as District Judge to replace Mike Salvagni.

  5. MONEY DOES talk in court. We see that in the backed up system where with wealth people are bailed out while the poor are unable to post it and may sit in jail for up to a year to go to trial . And what does the Constitution of the United States say about EVERYONE is entitled to a ” Fair and Speedy Trial”? As Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer stated, The Judicial System is broken and they are POWERLESS to fix it My question is,does anyone even try ?

    • @Virginia – Maybe a better question is, does anyone even care?

      Rampant voter suppression, police profiling and sanctioned violence against people of color, a pipeline to incarceration in for-profit forced-labor institutions, fanatical determination to deny access to health care for the working class, an entire economic structure tailored to direct the wealth of the whole country to the richest 1%, adamant refusal to acknowledge the reality of the devastation that will result from climate disruption so the profits of the fossil fuel corporations will be maintained.

      Not only do those at the top of that construct not care, they are consciously, maliciously intent on repealing the entire 20th century. They have been grimly working for over 80 years now to return the middle class back to the status of a permanent underclass; to reclaim the dominance of the industrial barons of the north and the slave-owners of the south.

      Gianforte is just a little more visible to us in Montana as a member of that struggle.

  6. How about we compare sentences for misdemeanor assaults in Gallatin County justice courts instead of engaging in Infowars-type speculation? A quick review of the Chronicle’s Court Reports shows that Lambert’s recommendation was in line with past sentences and that the sentence imposed was, considering the treatment requirements, similar to or more severe than past sentences. More significant, if I had been defense counsel, I would have been discussing reducing the charge to disorderly conduct, pointing to Gianforte’s acceptance of responsibility, payment of restitution, and apology. I would have a good chance of getting that reduction.

    Now, let me say this. I used to enjoy the Cowgirl blog for its information and quirky take on events. But since the change in authorship, it has become little more than a rant platform.

  7. I was charged with a misdemeanor several years ago. I was arrested, photographed and booked. I got 40 hours of anger management and charged with $1,000 fine. I’m white and poor.

  8. I have lived in Gallatin County for nearly 40 years and know Marty Lambert pretty well. He has a thankless job that no sane person would want, he’s done a lot of really good work here for the citizens of MT, and he’s also done a lot of crazy senseless crap. It was an ugly situation here when we had Marty working in the county attorney’s office and corrupt-Bill Slaughter running the sheriff’s dept., that was a real bad time. Yes, Gallatin County has changed for the better since that time, Marty Lambert has changed for the better, but there’s still room for improvement.

  9. Marty Lambert rolled over for the same reason the electors of Montana are rolling over for Gianforte.
    13-35-213. Preventing public meetings of electors.
    (2) A person who willfully disturbs or breaks up a public meeting of electors or others, lawfully being held for the purpose of considering public questions is guilty of a misdemeanor.
    13-35-106. Ineligibility to hold office because of conviction. In addition to all other penalties prescribed by law:
    (3) if an elected official or a candidate is adjudicated to have violated any provision of this title the individual must be removed from nomination or office, as the case may be, even though the individual was regularly nominated or elected.

  10. Why did Helena cops get a mugshot of Cascade County Sheriff Bob Edwards on a misdemeanor in Helena? What gives ?

  11. Lambert’s NOT helping Gianforte by not treating him the same as any of GG’s constituents would be processed, booked, fingerprinted and mugshots taken. So much for the false premise of ‘Liberty and JUSTICE for ALL’ Mr. Lambert, and the Sheriff there, a GG donor in Bozeman, Gianforte country and Lambert ‘gushed’ over all the money GG threw around there, and on MSU buildings, showered ’em with MILLIONS!

  12. If this had been Joe Citizen down at the local pub he would have been charged with a felony. Yes money and politics talk.

  13. MSU-Bozeman should consider removing Gianforte’s name from its School of Computing. http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/gianforte-stevens-institute

  14. Given July 2017 disclosures of Trump Jr. contacting Russians along with Trump Jr. being an emmisary of the White House to Montana meeting in private with Gianforte, Special Prosecutor Mueller should be investigating, what did Trump Jr. tell Gianforte about the Russians, when did he tell him, and what impact any such information had on Gianforte investment holdings/trading? In effect, was insider information exchanged in an impermissible way?

    Montana Dems should be raising this issue with Mueller’s office. If Gianforte was compromised in a pecuniary way via insider communication affecting his vaunted portfolio; that’s more than a body slam in that it could cost him money and such. Surely somebody in Montana’s Dem ranks has to know current securities law and insider trading implications, were that to be the case.

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