Missoula Story of the Week: Bad Courtroom Behavior


This week a Florence man took the time to teach all of us how not to act in front of a Missoula judge… or any judge, for that matter.

An article in Monday’s Missoulian highlighted this instructional demonstration by Rance August Hertz, who decided to greet Missoula County Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech with a big old “Howdy”.

This might seem like a friendly way to greet someone in Montana, but it is a little disrespectful when speaking to a judge. Her honor, the preferred way to address someone with this position, seemed to agree.

Her response of “Howdy?” with the emphasis on the question mark, should have led the accused to tread more carefully in front of someone who would eventually determine his immediate future. It didn’t.

Hertz then decided to remind judge Orzech that she had “married him” the last time he had seen her. Not presided over his marriage, not conducted his marriage, but “married him”. Judge Orzech was a little more than put off by this remark and sternly informed the defendant that she is already married.

Law and disorder in Missoula MT

While this would most likely be considered a full day of curriculum at any accredited university, Hertz’s behavior that put him in front of judge Orzech is a PhD-level course in how not to conduct oneself.

Hertz was originally arrested for pointing a gun at a family in a car while driving his pickup north of Lolo, according to the Missoulian. As if this wasn’t enough, our Rhodes Scholar decided to resist the patrolman that was trying to put him into the back of the police car. This was prior to Hertz’s attempt to bribe the arresting officer. Not once, but repeatedly, as chronicled in the Missoulian. It should be mentioned at this point that Hertz had apparently been drinking alcohol. An empty beer can was reportedly found inside his vehicle.

It should also be mentioned that this was not the Florence man’s first brush with the law. According to the Missoulian, Hertz was convicted of several felonies in 2004. His previous crimes involved leading police on a high-speed chase through Missoula. The pursuit ended with the accused driving his SUV down a boat ramp and into the river at Kelley Island. At that point, Hertz decided to show officers just how great of a swimmer he was, trying to cross the river with a bag of marijuana in tote. Hertz did return to shore when the responding officers threatened to release a police dog on him.

Hertz has shown everyone that time does not always equate to wisdom gained. Perhaps judge Orzech will also preside over his surely imminent divorce proceedings.


Each week, Tom Diddel recaps the week’s most talked-about story in Missoula. Visit the Make it Missoula News & Opinion section for more talk of the town.


Tom Diddel has lived in Missoula on and off for nearly thirty-eight years. He enjoys skiing, hiking, and many other outdoor activities. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Montana and is currently working as a Freelance Writer and a Para-Educator.