Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Appellant’s motion to suppress, holding that the denial of Appellant’s motion to suppress was not erroneous. Defendant was charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs. Defendant filed a motion to suppress his statements on the basis that he was detained without reasonable suspicion and arrested without probable cause. The district court denied the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in its determination that the officers’ initial investigation was supported by particularized suspicion; (2) the immediate use of handcuffs did not elevate the investigatory stop into an arrest; and (3) the district court did not err in its determination that the arrest was supported by probable cause. View "State v. Stevens" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the jury verdict and sentencing order of the district court finding Appellant guilty of criminal possession of dangerous drugs, holding that there was no error that required reversal of Appellant’s conviction. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the district court (1) properly exercised its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion for directed verdict; (2) correctly instructed the jury on the charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs; (3) did not abuse its discretion by denying Appellant’s requested instruction on “mere presence”; and (4) did not abuse its discretion by overruling Appellant’s hearsay objection regarding his traveling companions’ conflicting statements to officers during Appellant’s second jury trial. View "State v. Ellerbee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for two counts of criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, holding that Defendant was not entitled to a protection from prosecution through the Montana Marijuana Act (MMA) exception under Mont. Code Ann. 45-10-103 and that sufficient evidence supported Defendant’s convictions. The municipal court held that Defendant needed to show proof that she had a valid registry card before the statute’s MMA exception could apply to her, but Defendant offered no such proof. The municipal court then found Defendant guilty of two counts of criminal possession of drug paraphernalia. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Defendant failed to show she possessed a registry card and was in compliance with the MMA she was not entitled to a protection from prosecution through the MMA exception; and (2) sufficient evidence supported Defendant’s convictions. View "City of Missoula v. Shumway" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of felony aggravated assault, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Appellant’s request for substitution of counsel. Appellant in this case was an indigent defendant who requested substitute counsel. The district court performed an adequate initial inquiry to determine whether Appellant’s complaints were seemingly substantial. The district court then denied the request, determining that Appellant did not present a seemingly substantial complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant's request for substitute counsel. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to set aside the jury verdict in his case and grant him a new trial, holding that the district court correctly concluded that the interests of justice did not require a new trial. Defendant was found guilty of partner or family member assault and criminal destruction of or tampering with a communication device. Defendant later filed his motion to set aside jury verdict and grant Defendant a new trial. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly denied relief. View "State v. Oschmann" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, holding that there was no error in the court below that warranted reversal of the conviction. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to exclude evidence because of an asserted discovery violation by the State; (2) the district court did not err by granting the State’s motion in limine to prevent Defendant from arguing that the State had not fulfilled its discovery obligations or by disallowing Defendant’s discussion of the subject to the motion in limine in his closing argument; (3) even if the district court erred by allowing the State to amend the information less than five days before trial any error was harmless; and (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting a State exhibit at trial when the redacted version of the exhibit was not provided to Defendant until the morning of the first day of trial. View "State v. Hudon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial and admitting Defendant’s blood alcohol concentration into evidence, holding that the district court did not err. Defendant was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court erred when it denied his motion to dismiss because his speedy trial rights had been violated and that the circumstances of his blood draw for the DUI investigation violated Montana law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant was not deprived of his right to a speedy trial; and (2) the blood draw comported with Montana law. View "State v. Heath" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of two counts of incest and two counts of sexual assault, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it excluded polygraph evidence or evidence pertaining to Defendant’s psychosexual profile and correctly applied Montana’s Rape Shield Law, Mont. Code Ann. 45-5-511(2), to exclude evidence of the victim’s alleged prior sexual conduct. Specifically, the Court held that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion in excluding Defendant’s polygraph evidence pursuant to Mont. R. Evid. 702, as there was no basis to depart from precedent that polygraph test results are inadmissible in Montana court proceedings; (2) did not abuse its discretion in excluding a defense expert’s testimony that Defendant’s psychosexual profile revealed no sexual interest in children where the testimony would have improperly bolstered Defendant’s claim of innocence; and (3) did not arbitrarily or mechanically apply the Rape Shield Law to exclude evidence. View "State v. Walker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court sentencing Defendant to the Montana State prison for thirty years with ten years suspended and ordering various probation conditions, holding that Defendant waived his right to challenge the constitutionality of a probation condition by failing previously to object. Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent. Included in Defendant’s probation conditions was condition forty-five, which barred him from possessing any device with photo, video, or Internet capabilities. Defendant did not object to the condition at or before sentencing. On appeal, Defendant argued that condition forty-five was an overly-broad restriction on his First Amendment freedom of speech. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant waived his right to appeal condition forty-five and that plain error review was not warranted in this case. View "State v. Coleman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court sentencing Defendant to five years in the Montana State Prison, holding that Defendant’s attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel and that Defendant was prejudiced as a result. Defendant pleaded guilty to criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, and obstructing a peace officer. The district court sentenced Defendant to five years in the Montana State Prison for criminal possession of dangerous drugs. On appeal, Defendant argued that his defense counsel’s failure to cite Mont. Code Ann. 45-9-202 and its application in State v. Brendal, 213 P.3d 448 (Mont. 2009), amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel that prejudiced the result of his sentencing hearing. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding that Defendant’s attorney provided ineffective assistance by filing to cite section 45-9-202 and Brendal, resulting in prejudice to Defendant. The Court remanded the cause for resentencing. View "State v. Walter" on Justia Law