The attorney representing a University of Montana student whose overturned expulsion is the subject of a records request by Jon Krakauer claims the bestselling author already acquired the documents illegally and is using the court system to “launder” them.
Krakauer’s attorney says his client doesn’t have any documents about the former student that are not a part of public records.
In early September Missoula attorney David Paoli — who represented former University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson during a 2013 rape trial that saw Johnson acquitted — filed a pair of motions in Lewis and Clark County District Court, asking for the judge to force Krakauer to turn over any documents he already possesses and reveal their sources.
Paoli also asked that the court toss out Krakauer’s petition to have the Commissioner of Higher Education release documents about how it handled the expulsion of Paoli’s client — a UM student, identified only as John Doe, who was accused of raping another student.
In 2012, following multiple campus proceedings, the unidentified UM student accused of rape — in a case whose allegations were identical to those in the eventual criminal case filed against Johnson — was expelled. That expulsion was upheld by then-President Royce Engstrom, but later overturned when the student appealed to the Commissioner of Higher Education, Clayton Christian.
Krakauer sued to find out how Christian dealt with the case.
A 2014 order by a District Court judge in Helena told Christian’s office to let the author review the documents he wanted to see, but the Commissioner’s Office appealed the ruling. In 2016, the Montana Supreme Court sent the case back to the District Court for an in camera — that is, private — review of the documents to determine which, if any, should be released.
The John Doe whose UM expulsion and reinstatement is at the center of Krakauer’s request has been allowed to act as an intervenor in the case, and is represented by Paoli — Johnson’s defense attorney in the criminal case. While Paoli only terms his client as Doe, Krakauer’s court filings have specifically referenced him as being Johnson.
In his court motions earlier this month, Paoli said that in interviews, Krakauer has repeatedly claimed to have records and documents that he himself has stated he “shouldn’t…