Jordan ‘JD’ Hall has filed for bankruptcy in federal bankruptcy court in Montana, saying he is unable to afford increasingly expensive attorney fees while fighting a lawsuit filed against him by Adrian Jawort.
The bankruptcy filing also immediately suspends legal proceedings, including the penalty hearing scheduled for Wednesday. If this hearing had taken place, Hall could have faced heavy fines by the court. The suspension is in effect for up to 30 days, and Judge Benjamin P. Hursh could ultimately decide how the case proceeds.
On Tuesday, the bankruptcy court issued a notice of insufficiency to Hall, saying all but one of the documents required for bankruptcy protection were missing. The court gave Hall 14 days to file the required documents, which include a statement of monthly income and means tests, pay stubs and more.
Hall was scheduled to appear before Cascade County District Court Judge Elizabeth Best on Wednesday for a penalty hearing.
Hall is being sued by Adrian Jawort, a transgender Indigenous lobbyist who alleges that an article about her damaged her reputation.
Jawort’s attorneys filed the sanctions motion based on Hall’s behavior, which included a photo showing Hall’s house with wall-hunting mounts, one reserved for one of attorney Raph Graybill’s chiefs, who depicts Jawort, and another photo showing Hall with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
The Montana Supreme Court denied an appeal by Hall to take over the case last week. In a motion filed by Hall, his attorney argued that Best erred in his partial judgment against Hall by deciding that Jawort was not a “limited-purpose” public figure. The Supreme Court chose not to take up the case, stating that “there is no evidence that an appeal would be insufficient”.
Matthew Monforton, Hall’s attorney, had argued that Best’s decision amounted to an incorrect legal finding that would instead subject Hall to trial instead of dismissing the charges or determining a different legal standard.
Hall filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a bankruptcy trustee, Joseph Womack of Billings, was named in the case.
Jawort’s attorneys are expected to file a response to the filing in federal bankruptcy court.
In the Chapter 7 bankruptcy court filing, he listed assets under $50,000 and said attorney fees were the main driver of his bankruptcy and that those bills ranged from $100,000 to $500,000.