When Emily Adamson, the NBC Montana reporter at KECI TV in Missoula, tweeted “Not guilty #JohnsonTrial” at 3:53 p.m. on Friday, she was the first one on my Twitter Feed to deliver the breaking news that had many Montanan’s attention. Adamson was followed by the Missoulian Newspaper’s tweet a few seconds later.
This sure was an exciting time for a Friday afternoon in Montana.
Then the Monday morning quarterbacking started. That is what this column is about – my commentary about the trial as an interested far-away observer – or Monday morning quarterbacking.
To set the record straight, I feel for both people and their families. I do not know either person. I do have a son and daughter around their ages. I do know that rape is a terrible crime and must be punished and that “no” is “no.” The accuser felt she was raped. The court was brought in to make the legal decision. Johnson was found not guilty.
I am not a lawyer (So I won’t insert a lawyer joke here) and I don’t even play one on television, but I did follow the Johnson trial in the news and via Twitter. What that means is with my undergraduate degree and by watching just one more season of Law & Order or a half season of Law & Order SVU, I should be able to prosecute cases as well as some current prosecutors. Or, maybe I would decide not to prosecute if the evidence was just not there – no matter how intense the outside pressure is.
When this first started (before court), I felt that Johnson was probably guilty. But as time went on and pieces of information started coming out I started having doubts. I made my final decision about him being not guilty right after the accuser was finished being cross-examined by the defense which was very early in the trial.
At that time I started thinking, “Is that all they’ve got?”
Only the Missoula County Attorney’s office with the help of an Assistant Attorney General from the state knew if they could present a strong case for the accuser and the citizens they represent. It took the jury about two hours (which was probably about the same amount of time it took them to eat lunch) to slap Missoula County and the State of Montana across the face with a not guilty verdict.
Of course Missoula County officials were somewhat between a rock and a hard spot with all the bad publicity going on regarding the University and the football team.
Now their case seemed pretty weak. Or, maybe the defense team was just that much better than the prosecution. I do believe the prosecution team did a disservice to the accuser in this case.
It would be interesting to find out how much this trial cost the taxpayers. As taxpayers we hope that those elected and appointed to prosecute the cases will be wise with the resources provided from us – the taxpayer. We see the U.S. Attorney’s office waste millions of dollars by going after athletes for getting poked in the butt with a needle and then lying about it.
In a perfect world the County and State would have to pay for Johnson’s legal fees since they got their %^&$ handed to them in the trial.
As for the future at the University of Montana for Jordan Johnson, on Saturday the Great Falls Tribune asked, “Should Jordan Johnson be allowed to rejoin the Montana football team?” There were 370 total votes cast and 78% said “Yes “and 22% said “No” in the unscientific poll.
A story in the Missoulian said there is an “appeal process Johnson can take to return to the field.”
What the…Johnson was found not guilty in an “actual” court of law. If I were him, I would transfer. Start a new chapter. His head coach and athletic director are gone.
NOTE: On Tuesday (March 5) Johnson was “reinstated to the Montana football team after his acquittal on a rape charge” according to the Associated Press and several other sources.
Jordan Johnson as well as his accuser may now be asking, “Which office do I go to get my reputation back?”
I am sure the Missoula County Attorney’s office and the Assistant Attorney General will get right on that…
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