Juras revives dispute with defunct student sex column

Montana Supreme Court candidate Kristen Juras

Montana Supreme Court candidate Kristen Juras

Politics is a chess match that attracts the most brilliant tactical minds of our society. Just kidding—it’s a magnet for confident dummies. I bet Kristen Juras is very smart in most situations, but she became her worst self last month, when she revived her dispute with the University of Montana student newspaper over a sex advice column that ran for one semester seven years ago.

As an assistant law professor at UM in 2009, Juras objected to the “Bess Sex” column in the Montana Kaimin, writing letters to the editor and eventually taking her complaint to the president of the university and the dean of the journalism school. Nothing happened, possibly because neither the president nor the dean exercises editorial control over the student newspaper.

“Bess Sex” author Bess Davis (now Bess Pallares) graduated later that year, and the column ended. You’d think that would put the matter to rest, but the Montana Cowgirl Blog brought it up last month, prompting Juras to issue the following statement on Facebook:

The column was discontinued after the United States launched a comprehensive review of the university’s handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints, including a review of student education efforts. Can’t find copies of the columns? That’s because all of the major newspapers refused to publish them.

That just isn’t true. The Department of Justice began its investigation of UM in 2012, three years after “Bess Sex” ended. And major newspapers “refused” to publish it in the same way NBC refuses to broadcast Game of Thrones. It was a Kaimin column, never offered for syndication.

This kind of reasoning suggests Juras might form her opinions first and her reasons second—a questionably desirable quality in a supreme court justice. You can read more instances of her non-standard approach to reasoning in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links, which will include an exciting surprise. Remember last week, when I said the same thing? I mean it this time, probably.



Justice feels bad for non-burglar Griz

The Griz, um, lineup

The Griz, uh, lineup

For a thrilling 48 hours last week, it looked like the county attorney might make Missoula weird again. That was the period after Kirsten Pabst intervened in the case of three Grizzly football players and two other UM students arrested for felony, but before we knew what they did. The hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday, then Wednesday. Meanwhile, local news ran player stats instead of information about the crime. Only the Kaiman—the University of Montana’s student newspaper, recently cut back to a weekly—knew the circumstances of their arrest.

It turned out those three big, dumb kids and one regular dumb kid thought the house was unoccupied, and confined their burglary to the part that was under construction. They climbed a ladder to get in, whereupon the homeowner dialed 911. Literally one minute later, their ride arrived, and they left the house with a case of beer. Then came the cops.

Was that felony burglary? I hope not. They seemed to think they were stealing beer from a construction site, which is bad but maybe not felony bad. People who steal beer from construction sites should probably be allowed to vote. The should be allowed to finish college and pass criminal background checks when they apply for jobs. Kirsten Pabst made a just decision when she reduced those kids’ charges to misdemeanor trespassing.

So why didn’t it feel good?

I can think of some reasons why not, and you can read all about them in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We had a perfect snafu in our little mountain town the weekend before last, and it reminded us how crooked this place feels, even when it isn’t.