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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 the order of the district court awarding summary judgment to the Missoula County Detention Facility and the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office (collectively, the County) on Plaintiff’s claim that the County had illegally discriminated against him based on his disability. Plaintiff initially filed a complaint with the Human Rights Bureau (HRB), which found no reasonable cause to believe that the County had discriminated against Plaintiff. The district court agreed. The Supreme Court Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in declining to consider evidence arising after Plaintiff filed his HRB complaint; and (2) the district court correctly granted summary judgment for the County. View "Borges v. Missoula County Sheriff’s Office" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court awarding summary judgment to the Missoula County Detention Facility and the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office (collectively, the County) on Plaintiff’s claim that the County had illegally discriminated against him based on his disability. Plaintiff initially filed a complaint with the Human Rights Bureau (HRB), which found no reasonable cause to believe that the County had discriminated against Plaintiff. The district court agreed. The Supreme Court Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in declining to consider evidence arising after Plaintiff filed his HRB complaint; and (2) the district court correctly granted summary judgment for the County. View "Borges v. Missoula County Sheriff’s Office" on Justia 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 the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and concluding that Plaintiffs did not have an easement to access a nearby airstrip located on Defendants’ property. Plaintiffs filed a complaint for declaratory, quiet title, injunctive and other relief against Defendants, arguing that they were entitled to access and use the airstrip from their property pursuant to the terms of a 1981 easement grant. The district court concluded that Plaintiffs’ property was not benefitted by an easement that would give Plaintiffs access to the airstrip. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly determined that Plaintiffs were not entitled to access an easement on Defendants’ property. View "Hudson v. Irwin" 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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Christita Moreau appealed a Workers’ Compensation Court (WCC) order denying her motion for summary judgment and granting summary judgment to Transportation Insurance Company. Moreau’s husband Edwin worked at the W.R. Grace mine near Libby. In 2009, he died from asbestos-related lung cancer. In 2010 Moreau, as personal representative of Edwin’s estate, filed a workers’ compensation claim for occupational disease benefits. Transportation Insurance Company (Transportation) was W.R. Grace’s workers’ compensation insurer, and it denied liability for the claim. Edwin’s employer, W.R. Grace, established and funded the Libby Medical Plan (LMP) to pay the medical expenses of its employees who were injured by exposure to asbestos. LMP paid approximately $95,000 of Edwin’s medical expenses. In 2012, as part of Grace’s bankruptcy, “certain rights and duties of the LMP” were transferred to the Libby Medical Plan Trust. Grace remained responsible for LMP’s “ongoing payment obligations” incurred before that time. In 2013, Transportation accepted liability for the workers’ compensation claim and entered a settlement with Moreau. Transportation agreed to reimburse Medicaid, other providers, and Moreau personally for medical expenses each had paid for Edwin’s care. The parties stipulated that Transportation paid all of Edwin’s medical bills or reimbursed the other persons or entities that had paid them. Transportation did not reimburse the LMP for the $95,846 of Edwin’s medical bills it had previously paid because the LMP refused to accept it. After the LMP refused to accept reimbursement from Transportation, Moreau demanded that Transportation pay the $95,000 either to Edwin’s Estate, to the LMP or its successor, or to a charity selected by the Estate. Transportation refused and Moreau filed a second petition with the WCC to resolve the issue. The WCC determined that all of Edwin’s medical care costs had been paid; that Edwin had no liability to any health care provider; and that he had no right to claim any further payment from Transportation. The WCC determined that if the Estate were to receive the $95,000 from Transportation it would represent a double recovery because Edwin had already received the medical benefits themselves. The Court concluded that Moreau therefore lacked standing to proceed Moreau’s petition. The WCC also found that Moreau’s attorneys also represented the LMP Trust “for purposes of recovering the disputed $95,846” for the LMP Trust. At the time of the WCC order, the LMP Trust was not a party to this action and had not advanced a claim in the WCC for reimbursement of the amount paid by its predecessor LMP. The WCC therefore granted summary judgment to Transportation. Finding no reversible error in that WCC decision, the Montana Supreme Court affirmed. View "Moreau v. Transportation Ins." on Justia Law