Is There A Reason Judge Vannatta Is Afraid Of Weak Courthouse Security?

by Travis Mateer

Before I read about Judge Vannatta shaking in his robes over what he thinks is a lack security at our Courthouse, I was in that very Courthouse asking private security permission before shooting this wooden model with my black device.

Of course I wasn’t shooting a gun inside the courthouse, that’s illegal, but for some reason Judge Vannatta thinks clear signage and Phoenix security aren’t enough. From the link:

“Anyone can walk into the courthouse, walk into any courtroom, with a weapon,” said Missoula County District Court Judge Shane Vannatta.

Some employees and staff at the Missoula County Courthouse feel security is lacking.

There are three entrance doors open and one in the courthouse connected to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

At least one contracted security guard is stationed on the first floor when you enter, but there are no metal detectors.

This is just too funny. Where do I start?

Let’s start with what Vannatta is accomplishing by taking his quotable concerns to local media. First, Judge Vannatta is disparaging the private security personnel who are contracted by the County to be the first line of defense if someone enters intending harm. Second, he’s telegraphing specific weaknesses, like multiple points of entry, to any would-be nut who might try something. Good job, Judge!

Here’s more from fearful Judge Vannatta:

Gibson asked Vannatta what his number one concern with safety throughout the courthouse is.

“The fact that no one is screened prior to entering the courthouse. Literally, you can walk into the courthouse with a gun and all you will be confronted by is a sign that says, ‘no weapons in the courthouse’ by order of the court,” says Vannatta.

Could there be a reason our Judge is sounding the alarm that he feels alarmed without security patting down the public as they enter and exit the Courthouse? I think there might be, and my theory is that Judge Vannatta has realized that places like Mineral County have become so dysfunctional, that Montana truly is the Wild West and trending wilder.

It might be a good time to read this post from October of 2022, titled Was The Writ Of Mandamus A Ploy To Destroy The Candidacy Of A Political Outsider In Mineral County?. One reason is because this post features this little tidbit about our current Sheriff, Jeremiah Petersen:

Sheriff Toth’s strategy on the stand was to overtly and, by insinuation, blame anyone else for what he’s ultimately responsible for. This strategy was on full display as Toth did damage control regarding the hiring of Deputy David Kunzelman.

For Missoula County voters, the first scapegoat should really be of interest, since Sheriff ELECT (Toth’s words), Jeremiah Petersen, was the one who allegedly referred Kunzelman to Toth as a “great guy” who should be hired as a Mineral County Sheriff Deputy, despite a little incident of stealing a law enforcement exam. As Captain of the Missoula County Detention Facility, Petersen’s referral carried a lot of weight with Toth.

Toth then threw shade at now Judge Marks, who at the time worked at the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, for “OK’ing” Kunzelman’s opportunity for rehire at the Sheriff’s Office in Missoula, implying this gave Toth some kind of additional cover for having to take accountability for his Sheriff Deputies in Mineral County.

This Mandamus dumpster fire has taken up significant time under TWO Sheriffs, and it hasn’t been pretty. For example, in another court hearing I attended, Sheriff Funke took the stand and accused County Attorney, Wally Congdon, of loading 200 pounds of Cannabis from the Sheriff’s Office into his personal vehicle, then feeding the weed to his Highlander Cows.

No, I’m not making this shit up.

I get it, society isn’t doing so good, and our professional class is starting to get VERY nervous, but I don’t think publicly insinuating your current methods of security suck is the smartest move to make. Unfortunately, that didn’t deter some on City Council from doing the same thing last August:

As Missoula City Council mulls revising public comment rules, some councilors want more security at public meetings amid concerns over safety in council chambers.

Feedback from city staff, the public and a handful of elected officials has council leadership considering bolstered security at City Council meetings, according to Council President and Ward 3 Representative Gwen Jones.

“Based on recent trends, council leadership and the administration continue to work on safety plans and security to ensure this,” Jones wrote in an email. “Unfortunately we are going in the direction of adding more security instead of lessening it, based on input from staff and the public as well as elected (officials).”

Interestingly it was the security aspect of the Play Fair Park Festival Scheme that led me to make a cynical public comment yesterday about this feeling like it was a done deal, but it looks like I might be wrong (emphasis mine):

Tensions rose as a Missoula committee discussed the possibility of a controversial music festival Wednesday.

The Climate, Conservation and Parks Committee discussed a proposed agreement that would bring an eight-year summer music festival to Missoula’s Playfair Park.

Members of the public voiced concerns, including loud sound disturbing the neighborhood and the logistics of hosting an estimated 20,000 people for the event.

With four votes in favor and seven opposed, the music festival did not get the committee’s approval.

I guess this Texas native–who got some benevolent branding from the Missoulian when they called him a University of Montana graduate–was a little too over-confident about his chances to pull this off.

Here’s an artist’s impression of how the Missoulian covered Scott Osburn:

Definitely better than MY courtroom sketch of our Judge:

If you appreciate my writing skills (and occasional courtroom sketch), then Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is one way to support my work, and making a donation at my about page is another.

With another monkey wrench thrown into my life, I’ll be having more unforeseen expenses, so now would be a great time to show me some support.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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