Bruce Taylor, 60, carried out a protest of one outside the rear entrance to the Missoula County Courthouse last Thursday morning, his shoulders thrown back and a picket sign held high in front of him. In red and black lettering, Taylor declared that "Arrogance is unacceptable on the bench."
The backside of Taylor's sign asked for help in replacing Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech, who only that morning appeared in the Independent's feature "Under the influence" speaking out against drunk driving. Indeed, the two were recent acquaintances on that very issue; on Feb. 15, Orzech convicted Taylor of DUI for a motorcycle accident on Mullan Road last July. Taylor made no effort to hide the personal nature of his beef with the judge. He felt justice, in his case, had not been served.
"They presented no evidence in court that I was intoxicated," Taylor claimed.
Taylor's protest did seem poorly aimed, however. Prudence, not arrogance, has marked Orzech's 12-year career. She's ruled on 1,800 DUI cases. She was the driving force behind Missoula County's specialized DUI court, and has stressed the importance of long-term treatment for DUI offenders, believing that drunk driving is a symptom of a greater addiction.
Turns out, Taylor is as opposed to DUI as any of the legislators seeking a crackdown in Helena right now—even though he, like some legislators, has been popped. He believes if people chose to drive while above the legal limit, the system should chuck them in the clink.
"The problem I see with DUIs is there's idiots who drink so much they don't know the difference between the shifter and the blinker," Taylor said. "They go out driving, run a stop sign and kill someone. They should go straight to jail."
Last Thursday was by no means Taylor's first attempt at making a public statement. The Kalispell native and former diesel mechanic proudly told the Indy that he's frequently picketed outside the offices of Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester. Taylor, producing a pocket U.S. Constitution, said he feels they've both "broken a solemn oath." Rep. Denny Rehberg, on the other hand, is "a good man."
But it's hard to sympathize with Taylor's beef. The evidence is stacked against him. His case records include a toxicology report proving Taylor was operating his motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol and Lorazepam. Taylor staunchly denies the allegation anyway, instead blaming the wreck on a faulty carburetor.