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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting Continental Resources, Inc.’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the estate of Zachary Buckles in which the estate alleged that Continental and other defendants were liable for Zachary’s death. The district court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that Continental, an Oklahoma corporation authorized to do business in Montana, was not subject to personal jurisdiction in Montana. The Supreme Court disagreed and remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing, holding that material jurisdictional facts existed, requiring a preliminary hearing by the district court pursuant to Mont. R. Civ. P. 12(d) to determine whether Continental was subject to the court’s jurisdiction. View "Estate of Buckles v. Continental Resources, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the city court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to dismiss the charges of reckless driving, criminal mischief, DUI-second offense, and negligent endangerment. In his motion, Defendant argued that the arresting officer failed to read the Montana implied consent advisory and that the failure violated Defendant’s due process rights. After the city court denied the motion, Defendant pleaded guilty to reckless driving, criminal mischief, and DUI-first offense. The district court upheld the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, ruling that the appropriate remedy for the failure of an officer to advise an accused of the right to an independent test is the suppression of any blood or breath tests the State may have undertaken. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because there was no test result in this case, there was nothing to suppress; and (2) the officer’s failure to notify Defendant of his right to obtain an independent blood test did not impede Defendant’s right to obtain such a test, nor did it not violate Defendant’s due process rights. View "State v. Berger" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the water court’s denial of Scott Ranch LLC’s petition for adjudication of existing water rights appurtenant to Indian allotment lands it acquired that were previously held in trust by the United States for the benefit of a member of the Apsaalooke (Crow) Tribe. After that member died and the lands were converted to fee status, Scott Ranch filed its petition. In denying the petition, the water court ruled that the lands were part of the Tribal Water Right established by the Crow Water Rights Compact and did not require a separate adjudication. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the water court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate Scott Ranch’s claims and erroneously proceeded to address the merits of the petition. View "Scott Ranch, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this action dissolving the marriage between Donald and Sandra Broesder, the district court erred by failing to consider the tax consequences of the distribution of the marital estate, resulting in an inequitable distribution. The district court had affirmed and adopted the standing master’s findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decree of dissolution. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the standing master erred as a matter of law by failing to consider the tax consequences of the likely result that certain marital property would be sold to satisfy the judgment, and the district court erred in adopting this conclusion. View "In re Marriage of Broesder" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The district court correctly denied Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence based on an alleged lack of particularized suspicion to seize his vehicle. A trooper stopped Defendant for expired North Dakota vehicle registration. The trooper informed Defendant that he had a particularized suspicion of criminal activity within the vehicle and therefore would deploy a drug canine. After the dog alerted near the driver’s side door, the trooper applied for and received a warrant to search the vehicle. The State later charged Defendant with multiple drug counts. The district court denied Defendant’s motion to suppress, and Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of dangerous drugs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in concluding that the canine search of Defendant’s vehicle was lawfully conducted pursuant to a particularized suspicion of narcotics activity; and (2) the search of Defendant’s vehicle was lawfully carried out pursuant to a valid search warrant. View "State v. Estes" on Justia Law

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The district court did not err in concluding that the statute of limitations had run on Miles Kingman’s claim for conversion of property. Kingman was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment. Thereafter, Thomas Weightman, the senior evidence technician for the Bozeman Police Department, informed Kingman that his personal property, including a watch, was authorized to be released. Weightman, however, later advised Kingman that the watch was not his. Kingman initiated this action alleging that Weightman failed to return Kingman’s wristwatch and seeking damages for theft and malicious intent. The district court deemed the theft claim as one for conversion of property. The court then entered judgment in favor of Weightman, concluding that the two-year limitation period on the conversion claim had expired prior to the filing of the suit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Kingman’s conversion claim was time barred. View "Kingman v. Weightman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction by jury verdict of sexual intercourse without consent, holding that the district court did not err in admitting evidence of a portion of Defendant’s testimony from his first trial on the same charge. After Defendant was first convicted of sexual intercourse without consent the Supreme Court reversed the conviction and remanded. During the retrial on the same charge the district court admitted a limited portion of Defendant’s testimony from his prior trial. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, holding that Defendant failed to demonstrate that admission of the evidence of his statement from the first trial violated his substantial rights. View "State v. Franks" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court ruling that while Herman Fox had existing and historical ditch and water rights across Billings Hotel & Convention Center’s (BHCC) property, as well as an established secondary easement, BHCC was not unreasonably infringing on Fox’s easement rights. The court held that the district court (1) did not err when it determined that BHCC did not unreasonably interfere with Fox’s secondary ditch easement by planting and maintaining trees and shrubs along the ditch; (2) did not err by imposing a duty on BHCC to clean and maintain the ditch located on its property; and (3) did not err by awarding BHCC reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. View "Fox v. BHCC II, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the jury court convicting Defendant of abuse or exploitation of an older person for whom Defendant was appointed a guardian and a conservator in a separate case. The court held (1) Defendant was not entitled to a hearing on his request to disqualify the presiding trial judge because the judge entered orders against Defendant’s interest in the guardianship and conservatorship case; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it allowed the State to present certain documents and witness testimony that the prosecutor disclosed shortly before trial; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it determined that alleged juror misconduct did not warrant a new trial. View "State v. Strang" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of two counts of assault with a weapon and one count of aggravated assault. On appeal, Defendant primarily challenged the effectiveness of his counsel regarding the jury instructions. The Supreme Court held (1) defense counsel did not provide ineffective assistance by failing to request a bystander justifiable use of force jury instruction; and (2) the district court did not impose illegal parole conditions by employing the language “for any period of community supervision” because that language was qualified by the statement that followed applying “conditions of probation.” View "State v. Mitchell" on Justia Law