Standard View: State’s withdrawal from ‘bad actor’ law enforcement is outrageous |
“Baker voluntarily availed himself of the mining lien in Montana and in so doing accepted the jurisdiction of the Montana courts with respect to that mining activity,” Menahan wrote in the decision.
Despite obtaining this ruling, it is clear that the state of Montana, under Gianforte, had no desire to ban Baker under the law.
Montana’s preeminent constitutional attorney, Jim Goetz, had been tasked with handling the case against Baker by the Bullock administration. He agreed to do it – pro bono – and took years of work.
After prevailing before Menahan, the state informed Goetz that it no longer needed his services. “Were my prices too high? He asked sarcastically.
A month later, the state has simply moved away from law enforcement.
DEQ lawyer Sarah Clerget told the court that the election of Gianforte and the appointment of new DEQ director Chris Dorrington had prompted “a very careful examination of the entire file in this case.” During the election campaign, Gianforte sharply criticized the time DEQ had spent reviewing Hecla’s mining claims.
Dorrington insisted on Wednesday that his agency had the ability to prosecute bad actors out of state, but said the law should not be applied to Baker.