After the high-profile charges against now former Grizzly quarterback Jordan Johnson were made public by Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg, questions began to arise about the process used to file those charges, including the fact that a grand jury was not empaneled. Van Valkenburg said the Montana legislature has given county attorneys the authority to file charges based upon an affidavit reviewed by a judge allowing the filing of charges.

Van Valkenburg said this system is vastly superior, because grand juries are cumbersome, time-consuming and expensive to administrate. Van Valkenburg said that the last time he recalls that a grand jury was empaneled in Missoula was in the 1970′s, when a series of unsolved murders were under investigation. The county attorney at that time was now District Judge Robert L. ‘Dusty’ Deschamps.

The next step in the Jordan Johnson case will come Aug. 14 in district court, where the defendant will hear the charges against him and enter a plea. The judge will then schedule an omnibus hearing so that attorneys on both sides can present motions, after which a trial date will be set.

Based on statements from Johnson’s attorney, Van Valkenburg believes that Johnson will plead not guilty to the sexual intercourse without consent charge. If convicted, Johnson could be imprisoned for a minimum of two years, with a maximum of 100 years, plus a $50,000 fine.

Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg