Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for sexual intercourse without consent, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in giving the deadlocked jury an Allen-instruction. During Defendant’s second jury trial, the jury sent a note to the judge six hours into deliberation asking when it could determine it was deadlocked because the jurors were unable to agree on a verdict. The State requested the revised Allen-instruction in State v. Norquay, 248 P.3d 817 (Mont. 2011). Defendant objected, requesting that the judge accept the jury as deadlocked because the six-hour deliberation indicated that the jury had diligently considered the case. The court overruled the objection and gave the jury an instruction nearly identical to Norquay’s revised Allen-instruction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Norquay’s revised Allen-instruction was appropriately given because it was not coercive. View "State v. Santiago" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for sexual intercourse without consent, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in giving the deadlocked jury an Allen-instruction. During Defendant’s second jury trial, the jury sent a note to the judge six hours into deliberation asking when it could determine it was deadlocked because the jurors were unable to agree on a verdict. The State requested the revised Allen-instruction in State v. Norquay, 248 P.3d 817 (Mont. 2011). Defendant objected, requesting that the judge accept the jury as deadlocked because the six-hour deliberation indicated that the jury had diligently considered the case. The court overruled the objection and gave the jury an instruction nearly identical to Norquay’s revised Allen-instruction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Norquay’s revised Allen-instruction was appropriately given because it was not coercive. View "State v. Santiago" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion to modify his criminal judgment “as to financial obligations.” Appellant was convicted of criminal endangerment. At the sentencing hearing, the State sought significant restitution for the victim. Appellant argued that the case involved liability issues more appropriately addressed in civil litigation initiated by the victim. The district court determined that imposition of full restitution in Appellant’s sentence was mandatory and also imposed an administrative fee. After the civil lawsuit was settled, Appellant filed a motion to amend the judgment regarding his financial obligations within the criminal action, requesting that the district court waive the restitution administrative fee in light of the promptness of the settlement and find that, based on civil releases, a restitution condition had been satisfied as to two parties. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme court affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s request for modification or satisfaction of the criminal judgment to reflect his civil settlement but reversed the district court’s order denying all relief, holding that the district court’s order contained a factual error regarding the amount received by the victim in the civil settlement relative to the restitution he was ordered to receive. View "Erickson v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant’s request for substitution of counsel in this criminal proceeding. Appellant pleaded guilty to deliberate homicide. Thereafter, Appellant made a request for substitution of counsel. After a hearing, the district court deemed the representation matter resolved because the Office of the State Public Defender denied Appellant’s request for new counsel and Appellant had not appealed that decision. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the district court failed adequately to inquire into Defendant’s complaints regarding his counsel, which necessitated a remand. On remand, the district court issued an order again denying Appellant’s request for substitution of counsel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it inquired into Appellant’s complaints of ineffective assistance of counsel and in denying his request for substitution of counsel. View "State v. Schowengerdt" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of sexual intercourse without consent, holding that the State presented sufficient evidence to prove the elements of penetration and force. Defendant was convicted of sexual intercourse without consent after he rubbed a female client’s genitals during a massage treatment session. On appeal, Defendant argued that the testimony of clitoral rubbing did not prove that the vulva was penetrated and that the State did not present evidence that Defendant used force to compel Defendant to submit to sexual intercourse. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that sufficient evidence supported the jury’s guilty verdict. View "State v. Lerman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Shayna Hubbard appealed a district court judgment convicting her of driving with a suspended license and for failing to show proof of liability insurance. Hubbard went to a Montana casino to gamble. She was 19 and could legally gamble, but only patrons who were 21 years old and older were eligible to receive a gambling coupon. She provided another person’s identification to a casino employee to get the coupon. An employee who recognized Hubbard and knew she was using another person’s identification called the police. Police learned that Hubbard’s Oregon driver’s license was suspended, and informed Hubbard that it was illegal to use another person’s identification. Police decided not to cite her for the offense, and left the casino. The same responding officer at the casino observed Hubbard a short while later driving on the suspended license, and pulled her over. Hubbard was arrested for driving with a suspended license (and failing to provide proof of insurance). Hubbard appeared in Libby City Court, pled not guilty to the charges, and asked for appointment of a public defender. Counsel was appointed, and Hubbard was tried in absentia. Counsel thereafter filed a Notice of Appeal; a jury trial in district court was scheduled for later that year. Counsel and Hubbard conversed by email, wherein Hubbard explained her belief that the arresting officer entrapped her by allegedly telling her to drive from the casino, with knowledge her license was suspended, because her companion had been drinking. Counsel ultimately moved to withdraw from Hubbard’s representation, arguing that a new trial in District Court “would be frivolous or wholly without merit.” Counsel filed a supporting memorandum and attached several documents, including the email Hubbard had sent to him explaining why she believed she was entrapped. The District Court denied Counsel’s motion to withdraw. Hubbard argued on appeal that Counsel violated his duties of loyalty and confidentiality to her by attaching the email explaining her view on trial strategy, violating attorney-client privilege, and revealing inculpatory information that was not previously in the city court record, which the prosecution used to file a motion in limine to prevent the entrapment defense. She also argued the improperly disclosed information prejudiced her during trial, because it gave the prosecution the idea to inquire into where she lived and how she arrived in Libby, prior to the incident at the casino. The District Court denied the motion and, further, gave an instruction regarding the entrapment defense to the jury. Hubbard presented an entrapment defense and the jury considered whether entrapment applied. The Montana Supreme Court concluded Counsel’s disclosure did not render the trial result “fundamentally unfair” or “unreliable,” and that Hubbard could not show that there was a reasonable probability that, but for her counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. View "City of Libby v. Hubbard" on Justia Law

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Justin Dodge appealed a district court judgment and sentence imposing $14,438.44 in restitution following his guilty plea for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). "The requirement of section 46-18-242, MCA, that a victim submit evidence specifically describing his or her pecuniary loss under oath in an affidavit or by testifying at sentencing is designed to ensure that restitution awards comply with basic principles of due process; that is, that an award is reliable." The Montana Supreme Court determined that the Department of Transportation’s failure to describe its loss under oath did not comply with the procedures and qualifications of 46-18-242, MCA, thus drawing into question the reliability of the award and Dodge’s substantial right to pay an accurate amount in restitution. The Court reversed the district court and remanded this case for resentencing for the limited purpose of reconsidering the restitution order. View "Montana v. Dodge" on Justia Law

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Murry Kim Reynolds was convicted of felony Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol, fourth or subsequent offense (DUI), and two misdemeanors: Failure To Have Liability Insurance In Effect and Failure To Drive On The Right Side Of The Roadway. He did not challenge his convictions on appeal; however, he appealed a June 2016 Judgment in which the District Court imposed fines, surcharges, prosecution costs, public defender costs, and court technology fees. The Montana Supreme Court found only that the misdemeanor surcharges totaling $30 and the court technology fee for the misdemeanors totaling $20 were incorrectly imposed in the written judgment and therefore had to be stricken from Reynolds’s criminal sentence. The Court found no abuse of the district court's discretion and otherwise affirmed. View "Montana v. Reynolds" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the Supreme Court should exercise plain error review to reverse Defendant’s conviction for assault because the jury was not instructed on the burden of proof for justifiable use of force. The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court that denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss, affirmed the justice court’s judgment, and remanded the case to the justice court to enforce its judgment. The court exercised plain error review to reverse Defendant’s conviction, holding that the justice court’s failure to instruct the jury that the State bore the burden of proving Defendant’s actions were not justified beyond a reasonable doubt denied Defendant a fair trial. View "State v. Akers" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court sentencing Defendant to forty years’ incarceration, with ten years suspended, and requiring him to pay approximately $3.5 million in restitution. Defendant was found guilty by a jury of aggravated assault. After Defendant was sentenced he appealed, arguing (1) the district court improperly admitted testimony that Child Protective Services removed children from Defendant’s care, and (2) the district court erred by ordering him to pay restitution for the victim’s future psychiatric treatment, counseling, family and marriage counseling, group home care, and case management expenses because the award was speculative. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court admitted irrelevant testimony that the children were removed from Defendant’s care, but the error was harmless; and (2) the restitution award was adequate because the costs were derived using reasonable methods and the best evidence available under the circumstances. View "State v. Santillan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law