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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for felony deceptive practices, following a jury trial. The court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion and correctly applied the law by admitting evidence of Defendant’s prior investigations and convictions for fraudulent deceptive practices; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing an expert witness to testify over Defendant’s objection that the State’s notification was late; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it declined to give Defendant’s proposed jury instruction for misdemeanor theft. View "State v. Reopelle" on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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Nan Stevenson purchased a fifth wheel trailer at the Billings, Montana location of Big Sky RV, Inc., a Montana corporation with its principal office registered in Bozeman, Gallatin County, Montana. Stevenson provided a down payment and financed the remainder of the purchase price through Ally Bank. Ally later initiated this complaint against Stevenson in Chouteau County, claiming that Stevenson had defaulted on her payment obligations under the loan agreement. Steven filed a third-party complaint against Big Sky, alleging damages for breach of contract, violation of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligence, and violations of the Montana Consumer Protection Act (MCPA). Big Sky filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings and for change of venue, arguing that, under Mont. Code Ann. 30-14-133(1), venue was improper in Chouteau County and that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the MCPA claim. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in determining that it had subject matter jurisdiction and that venue was proper in Chouteau County. View "Ally Financial, Inc. v. Stevenson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Contracts

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s petition for postconviction relief, in which Defendant claimed that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in several respects. The Supreme Court agreed with the district court’s conclusions, holding that counsel did not render ineffective assistance by (1) not objecting to the mental-state jury instruction; (2) not objecting to evidence regarding Defendant’s brothers or references to the term “Modern Outlaw”; (3) briefly referring to Defendant’s probationer status; and (4) not objecting to the admission of testimony that allegedly vouched for the testimony of others. View "Golie v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction, rendered after a jury trial, for deliberate homicide and several other offenses. The district court sentenced Defendant to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court relieved the State of its burden to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by giving jury instruction number twelve stating that “when circumstantial evidence is susceptible to two interpretations, one that supports guilt and one that supports innocence, the jury determines which is most reasonable.” The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that, considering all the instructions, the disputed instruction did not adversely affect Defendant’s substantial rights. View "State v. Sanchez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order vacating Defendant’s initial guilty plea to felony partner or family member assault (PFMA) and the court’s subsequent order accepting Defendant’s guilty plea to aggravated assault. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court had no authority to vacate his guilty plea to PFMA and that he was twice put in jeopardy for the same offense. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) Defendant waived his right to appeal the district court’s decision to vacate his guilty plea to PFMA in his later plea agreement for aggravated assault; and (2) the State’s prosecution of Defendant for aggravated assault did not compromise the protections against double jeopardy. View "State v. Stone" on Justia Law

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Todd Carlson, who began construction on a detached garage on his property in a subdivision without first obtaining a zoning compliance permit, requested a variance from the Yellowstone County Board of Adjustment. The board denied the variance request, noting that Carlson had not done his due diligence and had carelessly disregarded zoning regulations. The district court upheld the Board’s decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly declined to second-guess the Board’s discretionary determinations and did not abuse its discretion in affirming the Board’s denial of Carlson’s variance request. View "Carlson v. Yellowstone County Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of felony theft, by common scheme. Defendant’s conviction arose from his act of obtaining benefits by means of deception after he misrepresented the severity of his injury to medical providers. The Supreme Court held (1) viewing the evidence in light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant obtained the benefits by means of deception or fraud, and therefore, the State presented sufficient evidence to convict Defendant under Mont. Code Ann. 45-6-301(5)(b); and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Defendant’s proposed jury instruction on the termination of workers’ compensation benefits under Mont. Code Ann. 39-71-609. View "State v. Sheehan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the partial summary judgment entered by the district court in favor of Defendant in this boundary dispute involving three adjacent properties. Plaintiffs initiated this action for declaratory judgment and quiet title against Defendant. The district court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiffs’ claims, directed that a decree of quiet title be entered, and certified the order as final. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment, and therefore, Defendant was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Sacrison v. Evjene" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and remanded in part the district court’s denial of Bryan Sandrock’s motion to set aside a default and a subsequent default judgment entered against him. The clerk of the district court entered Sandrock’s default after Sandrock failed to answer a complaint within the designated time. Sandrock, through counsel, filed a motion to set aside default and default judgment based upon an alleged fraud upon the court committed by the other party and counsel’s own failure to pay sufficient attention to the matter. The court denied the motion, concluding that the “good cause” standard set forth in Mont. R. Civ. P. 55(c) was not satisfied and that Sandrock’s brief did not support his argument of a fraud upon the court. Sandrock appealed the denial of his motion to set aside default judgment and the district court’s calculation of damages. While it affirmed the denial of Defendant’s motion to set aside default and default judgment, the Supreme Court remanded the matter for a recalculation of damages and identification of evidence supporting the recalculation, as the court was unable to discern how the various sources used by the district court established the amount of damages awarded. View "DeTienne v. Sandrock" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part an order of the district court entering judgment in favor of Plaintiffs on their complaint against Defendants for breach of contract, negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, and unjust enrichment. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court erred in concluding that Plaintiffs had an enforceable contract to purchase real property; (2) the district court did not err in entering judgment against three of the defendants for actual damages; but (3) the case must be remanded for an entry of judgment against the remaining defendants because they were joined in this proceeding and Mont. Code Ann. 72-3-1012 required them to also bear the cost of the claim. View "Wood v. Anderson" on Justia Law