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Jon Krakauer

The Montana Supreme Court will hold oral argument in April on Jon Krakauer v. the State of Montana and Commissioner of Higher Education, Clayton Christian.

Krakauer, a best-selling investigative author, is seeking disciplinary records of Jordan Johnson, former quarterback for the Montana Grizzlies. Johnson was acquitted of sexual intercourse without consent in 2013 in Missoula County District Court.

However, multiple proceedings at the University of Montana found Johnson guilty of rape, according to Krakauer's most recent book, "Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town."

Once the case reached the Montana commissioner of higher education, though, Commissioner Christian vacated the findings, the book said.

Krakauer argues the public has the right to know the reason Johnson wasn't expelled from UM. A court document said President Royce Engstrom agreed that a student accused of rape in 2012 – at the same time, and with identical facts, as the case against Johnson – should be expelled from UM.

And UM's student-athlete code of conduct states players must expect more scrutiny by the media and public than other students, according to another brief. Krakauer argues Johnson gave up his expectation of privacy when he agreed to the code.

However, the commissioner's office argues that federal and state law prevent students' educational records from being released.

In fact, Kevin McRae, spokesman for the commissioner's Office, said federal authorities have directed the office to refrain from opening records in this case.

"The United States government, including the U.S. Attorney and U.S. Department of Education, have told the commissioner's office that it is prohibited from releasing student records, and have also joined the lawsuit in opposition to Krakauer's case," McRae said in an email.

In an order issued this week, the Supreme Court scheduled a hearing on Wednesday, April 27, at Montana State University in Bozeman. An introduction to oral argument is slated to begin 9:30 a.m. in the Strand Union Building, Ballroom A.

"It is further ordered that no motions to reschedule the oral argument will be granted," the order said.

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University of Montana, higher education