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Pastor facing libel suit files for bankruptcy, blocking the lawsuit

Posted at 6:39 PM, Feb 15, 2022

HELENA — A conservative pastor from Sidney who’s being sued for libel has filed for bankruptcy, stalling the libel lawsuit by a transgender activist accusing him of lying about her and threatening her and her lawyers.

The filing Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court by pastor Jordan “J.D.” Hall also came just two days before a scheduled hearing in state court on the libel plaintiff’s request to sanction Hall for alleged public threats of violence and other statements about the case and the presiding judge.

Hall’s bankruptcy filing included few details, but said he had assets of less than $50,000 and debts ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. He filed under Chapter 7 of federal bankruptcy codes, which is for liquidation of assets and distribution of the proceeds to creditors, rather than reorganization of debts.

Hall’s lawyer in the libel lawsuit, Matthew Monforton, said he is not representing Hall in the bankruptcy case and had no comment.

A bankruptcy filing puts on hold any other legal actions against the person filing for bankruptcy.

Attorneys for the transgender activist, Adrian Jawort of Billings, said Tuesday that Hall is trying to avoid accountability for his actions, and that they would “continue to pursue the truth, regardless of Mr. Hall’s tactics.”

Hall, the founder of the online Montana Daily Gazette, posted an article last spring that said Jawort, of Billings, had confronted a state senator in the halls of the Capitol during the 2021 Montana Legislature and that the senator had to be escorted to safety at the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms.

Jawort said the exchange never happened and sued Hall last September for libel. Since then, Hall has made numerous public statements challenging Jawort and her lawyers and criticizing the presiding judge in the case, District Judge Elizabeth Best of Great Falls.

Last month, Jawort’s attorneys asked Best to sanction Hall for making threats and taking other public actions to “disrupt and undermine the proceedings.”

A hearing on the sanctions request had been scheduled Wednesday before Best in Great Falls.