Commissioner of Higher Ed. says office can't release docs to author


HELENA, Mont. - The Montana University System Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education is asking the court to deny a request for records from a well known author.

Jon Krakauer is working on a book that deals in part with how the University of Montana and Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian resolved a rape complaint against Grizzlies quarterback Jordan Johnson.

Krakauer wants records from any action Christian took following an apparent recommendation from a university court that Johnson be expelled.

Johnson was not expelled from the University of Montana and a jury acquitted him of sexual intercourse without consent in a Missoula County District Court trial last year.

In a response to Krakauer's request, attorneys write that Christian's office is barred from releasing the documents based on privacy laws.

Associate Commissioner of Higher Education Kevin McRae on Tuesday cited a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld a Virginia law that does not grant rights to out-of-state requesters. 

Attorney Jessica Brubaker said it is unclear whether the state will pursue that defense, but it wants to keep the option open.   

Krakauer attorney Mike Meloy says the Montana Constitution does not limit those rights.

A judge will have to rule on the Krakauer's petition in Lewis and Clark County District Court in Helena.

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