by Travis Mateer
When I first heard that an obscure legal writ would be filed by a local Montana attorney, I knew two things: something big was brewing, and I don’t know shit about obscure legal filings.
While I’ve linked to a Wikipedia explanation of what a writ of Mandamus is, for this post I am consulting a sharp legal mind who enjoys bullet points and concise summaries. And here’s the gist. A writ of Mandamus protects the rights of citizens within a certain jurisdiction, ensuring due process and the rule of law, so a filing would generally be directed at those institutions tasked with upholding the rule of law.
Enter the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office AND the Mineral County Attorney’s Office.
That’s right, there are TWO writs of Mandamus that have been officially filed by Lance Jasper of Reep, Bell and Jasper making separate, but similar, claims of failure to protect Mineral County citizens and those passing through this mountainous County in Montana.
Before getting into the specific claims, I’d like to note what I DID NOT KNOW when I wrote this post on September 6th, and that’s WHO is claiming specific injury in the petition against the Mineral County Attorney, and that’s Sheriff candidate, Ryan Funke.
Here’s a screen-shot from the actual petition with the part naming Deputy Funke as a specific party:
Why is this important? I would ask Lance Jasper, but his law partner was pretty explicit about me NOT contacting them after I rang his Bell. I would also ask members of the Jasper family, since they are so prominent in Mineral County AND contributors to Ryan Funke’s political campaign, but I don’t feel like chasing down contact info for Carter, Frederick, Jacob, Kenneth and Pauline.
The claims being made in BOTH petitions are pretty worrisome, objectively speaking, like Sheriff Office hiring practices that omit things like background checks and mental health evaluations.
Even when the Sheriff’s Office DID know, how did they react? Here’s an example of what is being claimed on that front:
Now, we can REALLY get into the weeds on the allegations being made in these petitions, considering there are 26 pages and 32 pages, respectively, but I know attention spans for this kind of sausage making are short, so let’s cut to the chase on who might benefit from calling into question the ability of County Attorneys and the Sheriff’s Office to protect their taxpaying citizens.
But first, a quick aside. Killdeers are birds that have a fun tactic to keep their stash of eggs safe; they pretend to have an injured wing as they tweet sad little tweets to make themselves sound injured, then scurry away from their nest. Am I making a Sheriff candidate analogy? Maybe.
Now, here’s the scenario that could play out, were the injured Ryan Funke to somehow, inexplicably, LOSE a political race for Sheriff. It seems, to my non-legal mind, that the groundwork for crying election foul is being laid with the help of an attorney with deep family ties to this County. Could that be what’s happening here?
The original letter that made the rounds on official Reep, Bell and Jasper letterhead made NO mention of specific injuries to a political candidate. Since being filed, the email that went out from Jasper’s office offers to REMOVE names in an amended filing, since Jasper was in a BIG hurry to file these petitions, such a hurry that it had to be done without notifying petitioners of the specifics.
Why? Well, Jasper has a conspiracy theory that he’s about to be criminally charged by Mineral County for filing the petitions. Here’s the language Jasper uses to justify his rushed legal move:
Another scenario these petitions could make possible, were Funke to WIN his election for Sheriff, is the opportunity for a new Sheriff to clean house of those who may know how the OLD Sheriff’s Office was operating, an office Funke was a BIG part of, including carrying out Coroner duties and writing questionable death certificates.
Initially this Mandamus thing sounded really cool, like the sound of accountability rising before ballots go out in October, but SURPRISE! It’s more like a Ryan Funke campaign yard sign claiming his little wing got hurt before he could fly.
Speaking of animals, if you’re craving an on-the-ground report, here’s a quick one I did yesterday near a bear trap. The threat of bears is REAL, people, so please take precautions and protect yourself, especially if you live in Mineral County!