Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment entered by the district court pursuant to a jury verdict finding Defendant guilty of sexual intercourse without consent, aggravated burglary, and aggravated assault, holding that the district court did not err in its judgment. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err under the circumstances in denying Defendant’s post-trial motion to dismiss; (2) the district court did not err in instructing the jury regarding the aggravated assault count of the amended information; and (3) the restitution amount imposed by the district court was not clearly erroneous, and the court’s legal conclusion requiring Defendant to pay restitution was correct. View "State v. Williams" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court clarified in this case its jurisprudence regarding jurisdiction and venue in criminal cases, holding (1) a defendant waives his or her right to object to the county in which a charge is filed if he or she fails to object before the first witness is sworn at trial; and (2) the prosecution must prove proper jurisdiction at trial. The Supreme Court reversed one of Defendant’s convictions for partner or family member assault (PFMA) and affirmed his second PFMA conviction, holding (1) Defendant waived his venue objection because he did not object before his trial began to the county in which the PFMA charges were filed; but (2) the prosecution failed to present any evidence regarding where the second PFMA charge occurred and therefore did not meet its burden of proving jurisdiction. View "City of Helena v. Frankforter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court, rendered after a jury trial, convicting Defendant of one count of sexual intercourse without consent. In affirming, the Court held (1) the district court did not deprive Defendant of a fair trial when it allowed the victim’s mother to provide testimony about Defendant’s prior assault against the victim’s brother; and (2) the district court did not commit plain error when it sent the victim’s forensic interview video into the jury room during deliberations, and trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to object. View "State v. Clemans" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for attempted deliberate homicide and aggravated assault, holding (1) the district court erred by instructing the jury using conduct-based definitions of purposely and knowingly, but the error was harmless; and (2) the district court did not err by determining that Defendant had not proven that the State violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). Specifically, the Court held (1) Defendant’s substantial rights were not affected by the district court’s error in instructing the jury on the definitions of knowingly and purposely, and therefore, reversal was not required; and (2) there was no Brady violation because had the evidence challenged by Defendant been disclosed, there was no reasonable probability the outcome would have been different. View "State v. Ilk" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part Defendant’s conviction for deliberate homicide with a weapons enhancement, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, and criminal endangerment, holding that the district court committed an evidentiary error and that there was insufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction for tampering with the evidence. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court abused its discretion by granting the State’s motion in liming excluding a methamphetamine pipe and the alleged drug use of a State witness that Defendant sought to introduce for impeachment purposes; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by giving a “first-aggressor” instruction to the jury; and (3) there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction of evidence tampering. View "State v. Polak" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the judgment of conviction convicting Defendant of four counts of felony violation of a protective order, holding that the district court erred in failing to address Defendant’s speedy trial claim. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred by denying his motion to dismiss in which he collaterally challenged the validity of the underlying 2006 protective order and erred by failing to analyze his speedy trial claim. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the charges at issue and did not err by failing to grant a new trial or otherwise set aside Defendant’s verdict of conviction in this case; and (2) based on the State’s concession, the district court erroneously failed to address Defendant’s speedy trial claim. View "State v. Huffine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the charge of sexual intercourse without consent of a minor under sixteen years old for the 1987 rape of an eight-year-old girl, holding that Mont. Code Ann. 45-1-205(9) violates the Ex Post Facto clause when applied, as here, to cases in which the statutory of limitations expired before subsection (9) came into effect. In denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss, the district court determined that section 43-1-205(9), which was passed after the statute of limitations for the charged crime had expired, revived the otherwise time-barred prosecution of Defendant. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) on its face, the statute is retrospective in its operation; and (2) Stogner v. California, 539 U.S. 607 (2003), compels the conclusion that the charges against Defendant must be dismissed. View "Tipton v. Montana Thirteenth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part judgments entered in the district court following Defendant’s guilty pleas to felony driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and misdemeanor driving while license suspended or revoked and to felony bail jumping. The Court held (1) the district court did not violate Defendant’s due process rights to have judgment rendered in a reasonable time after entering his guilty pleas by granting Defendant’s motions to continue sentencing; (2) the district court erroneously included a public defender fee in each of its two written judgments after orally stating that it would impose only a single fee; and (3) the district court erroneously imposed an information technology surcharge on a per-count basis. View "State v. Clawson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for aggravated burglary and four counts of assault with a weapon, entered after a jury trial. The Court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence that Defendant was affiliated with a gang; (2) the district court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion for mistrial after a witness testified that there was an “active warrant” for Defendant’s arrest at the time of the assaults; and (3) sufficient evidence supported the jury’s determination that Defendant assaulted Garrick Gonzales with a weapon. View "State v. Michelotti" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s convictions for felony use or possession of property subject to criminal forfeiture, felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs, and other drug offenses, holding that the district court abused its discretion admitting evidence of Defendant’s Utah drug charges. During Defendant’s criminal trial, the district court allowed the State to introduce evidence as to Defendant’s Utah drug charges to prove intent. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on all charges. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial, holding that the evidence of Defendant’s Utah drug charges posed a substantial risk of unfair prejudice that outweighed the probative value of the evidence, and the admission of the evidence was not harmless. View "State v. Buckles" on Justia Law