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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting Defendant’s motion to withdraw his plea of guilty to one count of felony sexual assault. After entering his guilty plea, Defendant moved to withdraw his guilty plea and rescind the plea agreement. The district court granted the motion, concluding that Defendant had established good cause to withdraw his plea. The court based its decision primarily on its conclusion that defense counsel had rendered ineffective assistance of counsel and on the threatening atmosphere surrounding the proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the State was authorized to appeal the district court’s order granting Defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea; and (2) the district court did not err by determining that good cause existed to permit Defendant to withdraw his guilty plea. View "State v. Terronez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The district court did not err in dismissing, for lack of jurisdiction, Tenants’ appeal pursuant to Rule 14 of the Uniform Municipal Court Rules of Appeal to District Court (U. M. C. R. App.) prior to ruling on Tenants’ previously filed motion to proceed in forma pauperis. However, the justice court err in awarding a money judgment in excess of the court’s jurisdiction limit. Tenants appealed an underlying judgment of the justice court. The justice court dismissed the appeal for failure to timely file an appellate brief pursuant to U. M. C. R. App. 14. Tenants filed the notice of appeal together with a motion and application to proceed in forma pauperis. The district court summarily dismissed Tenants’ appeal pursuant to Rule 14(c). The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the appeal for Tenants’ failure to timely file an appellate brief but reversed and remanded for entry of a corrected judgment against Tenants in the amount of $13,426, holding that the justice court erred by awarding a money judgment $8,527 in excess of the court’s $12,000 jurisdictional limit. View "Alto Jake Holdings LLC v. Donham" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that Florence Larson, mother of Dwight and Doug Larson, properly and without undue influence, gifted her shares in the family farm corporation to Doug. Specifically, the court held (1) the district court did not err in finding no undue influence by Doug over Florence; (2) Dwight could not raise the argument that the gift of stock certificates was a contract for which Doug offered no consideration for the first time on appeal; and (3) the district court did not err in finding that Florence made a valid gift of company stock certificates to Doug. View "Larson v. Larson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting Jennifer Teeter’s motion for summary judgment in this declaratory action filed by Teeter against Mid-Century Insurance Company, Teeter's insurer, seeking payment of medical expenses and lost wages after an accident. The district court concluded that Teeter made a prima facie showing that it was reasonably clear that her medical expenses and wage losses were causally related to the accident and that the opinions of certain doctors did not create a disputed issue of material fact as to medical causation and damages. The Supreme Court disagreed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that there was a clear dispute of material fact regarding causation because it was not reasonably clear if Teeter’s expenses were causally related to the accident. View "Teeter v. Mid-Century Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order denying Daniel Orr’s motion to modify maintenance, which was incorporated into the parties’ divorce decree from a marital property settlement agreement. In denying the motion, the district court concluded that the agreement could not be modified absent a written agreement of the parties and, further, that Montana law precludes a district court from modifying maintenance when an agreement prohibits modification. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the maintenance provision was an inseparable part of the property distribution provided in the agreement and could not be separately modified by a court upon Daniel’s motion; and (2) enforcement of the parties’ agreement was not unconscionable. View "In re Marriage of Orr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court concluding, as a matter of law, that Plaintiff’s claims against Dr. Rodney Brandt were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Dr. Brandt performed surgery on Plaintiff’s knee in 2008. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff began to experience new knee pain. In 2012, Plaintiff filed this claim asserting that Dr. Brandt negligently performed surgery on her knee. The district court ruled that Plaintiff’s claim was filed after the three-year statute of limitations had run. The Supreme Court disagreed and remanded the case, holding (1) the date on which Plaintiff discovered or reasonably should have discovered her injury involved disputed issues of material fact; and (2) Plaintiff was entitled to have a jury decide when she discovered or through reasonable diligence should have discovered her injury and that it may have been caused by Dr. Brandt. View "Wilson v. Brandt" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court rejecting a reoffered plea agreement between the State and Appellant and leaving Appellant’s conviction undisturbed, despite a federal district court’s direction that the State reoffer Appellant an originally un-communicated and favorable plea proposal. Appellant was convicted of aggravated kidnapping and other crimes. Appellant later applied for a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) because his counsel failed to communicate a plea offer to him. The federal district court granted Appellant’s petition relating to his IAC claim and remanded the case. In accordance with the court’s directions, the State reoffered Appellant an equivalent plea. The district court rejected the reoffered plea agreement because Appellant was unwilling to accept responsibility for his actions at the time the plea offer was made. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion in rejecting the reoffered plea agreement; and (2) did not err by not allowing Appellant to withdraw his guilty plea after it rejected the reoffered plea agreement. View "State v. Rose" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting judgment in favor of Bridger del Sol, Inc. (BDS) and awarding BDS attorney fees in this declaratory action filed by BDS against VincentView, LLC. In the complaint, BDS asked the district court to declare that it was not breaching a commercial lease agreement between the parties and claimed that VincentView anticipatory breached the lease, causing BDS damages. The district court found that VincentView anticipatorily breached the lease and the BDS did not breach the lease. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court’s findings were supported by substantial evidence in the record and were not clearly erroneous. View "Bridger Del Sol, Inc. v. Vincentview, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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Defendant pleaded no contest to felony criminal endangerment under Mont. Code Ann. 45-5-207. The district court imposed a ten-year sentence to the Department of Corrections, with five years suspended. Defendant appealed, asserting claims of judicial bias and ineffective assistance of counsel. At no time during the proceedings did Defendant state a claim of judicial bias against the district court. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this court declines to undertake consideration of the merits of Defendant’s bias allegation pursuant to the plain error doctrine; and (2) Defendant’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel was not reviewable on direct appeal. View "State v. Howard" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Plaintiffs’ motion to substitute Judge Edward P. McLean in this legal malpractice case. Plaintiffs sued Defendants for legal malpractice. After the Supreme Court reversed and remanded for an order of summary judgment, Judge McLean assumed jurisdiction in this case. After the trial, Judge McLean retired, and Chief Justice McGrath issued an order calling Judge McLean back into active service to preside over the case. Judge McLean then entered a final judgment in the case. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial to determine the amount of Plaintiffs’ damages. Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed a motion for substitution of Judge McLean. Judge McLean denied the motion as untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly denied Plaintiffs’ motion where Plaintiffs had actual notice of Judge McLean’s assumption of jurisdiction, and Judge McLean retained jurisdiction after the Supreme Court reversed and remanded in Labair II and the Labairs filed their motion for substitution after the twenty-day deadline under Mont. Code Ann. 3-1-804(12). View "Labair v. Carey" on Justia Law