Kristen Juras is the daughter of
the Galts. Yes, the same anti-public access Galts who married
into the vast land holdings of Wellington Rankin, at the time,
one of the largest landowners in Montana.
Juras family background
58 of the Stop the Beach Renourishment law review, "Although
the early Montana courts and legislature strongly protected
riparian rights (1) by extending riparian ownership to the low-water
mark of navigable waters and to the middle of non-navigable
waters, and (2) by affirming the riparian owner's right to exclude
the public's use of privately-owned stream beds, these rights
have progressively eroded. The first erosion was slight (and,
in view of Montana's affinity for fishing, caused little controversy)
-the adoption in 1933 of the "angler's statute" allowing
fishermen to enter onto the banks of navigable rivers between
the low- and high-water marks for purposes of fishing. The second
erosion was monumental-the expansion of the public trust doctrine
to allow public use of both navigable and non-navigable stream
beds for recreational use." She's talking about our Stream
Access as an erosion!
Interviewed on Northern
Broadcastings Voices of Montana in Dec., Juras stated that water
rights is going to be huge in the next 15 years.
Oped, "The courts do not have the authority
to make any significant changes to existing law – that
authority is reserved to the legislature under the Montana constitution.
So don’t be fooled by those who are yelling wolf that
the public’s right to use waterways for recreation is
somehow in jeopardy -- that’s a distraction from the real
issues surrounding the upcoming elections for the Montana Supreme
Yes, don't be fooled. Juras
also states, "Current law in Montana safeguards the public’s
right to use surface waters for recreational purposes while
protecting the rights of riparian landowners. And only the legislature
(not the courts) can change the current laws. " "Current
law" is key here, you can change "current law"
through the legislature. Laws can and do change, depending on
those voted into the legislature and their agendas. The make
up of the courts that interpret law is equally just as important.
So while Juras may state the law is settled, I feel she is tipping
her hand to an agenda when she qualifies "current law."
interview, “I still believe that the most
important place to overturn precedents is through the legislative
process. If the legislature is not happy with judicial decision,
they can change it as long as what they do is within constitutional
bounds... The legislature can go back and change that rule.
And ever since that decision came out, legislation has been
introduced to change it. Last year, it was 50-50, a tied vote.
But that is the legislative process, that is another available
process to change opinions citizens are unhappy with...
Having said that, if the legislature
doesn’t act, the courts are going to be addressing these
issues. And even if the legislature does act, I wouldn’t
be surprised, whatever form of exemptions it adopts, if the
exemptions are either challenged as too broad or not broad enough.
So the courts are going to have a role, but it should start
in the legislature
because behind the legislature are the people.”
Juras replied she did consider the 1985 stream access law a
settled matter, but added that many issues remain at loose ends.
For examples, she said the stream bed ownership of non-navigable
waterways might be private, and bridge-access policies might
depend on whether the bridge is privately or publicly owned.
Sandefur charged that Juras
was hinting she was ready to pick away at the stream access
laws and showing a bias that was improper on the bench.