Archive | April, 2015

State v. Dupree

State v. Dupree, 2015 MT 103 (April 14, 2015) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly denied Dupree’s motion to suppress evidence found in the search of her purse, and (2) whether the district court improperly altered its oral pronouncement in the written judgment.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) yes. 

Affirmed (1) and reversed (2)

Facts: A Havre police officer and drug task force member received a call from a border patrol agent advising him he had received a call from an Amtrak agent saying Billie Rae Dupree would be leaving the train station later that day with drugs in her possession. The officers went to the station, approached Dupree and identified themselves, and told her about the tip they had received.…

Omimex Canada, Ltd. v. Dept. of Revenue

Omimex Canada, Ltd. v. Dept. of Revenue, 2015 MT 102 (April 14, 2015) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court properly applied the doctrine of issue preclusion to preclude Omimex from litigating the issue of whether it operates a single and continuous property.

Short Answer: No.

Reversed & remanded

Facts: Omimex is a Montana oil and gas exploration and production company that contests DOR’s central assessment of its property for tax year 2011. Property can be centrally or locally assessed. Central assessment applies to “property owned by a corporation or other person operating a single and continuous property operated in more than one county or more than one state.” § 15-23-101(2), MCA. Centrally assessed property may be classified class nine, which is taxed at 12% of market value.…

State v. Carnes

State v. Carnes, 2015 MT 101 (April 14, 2015) (Rice, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (5-2, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by failing to instruct the jury that the state was required to prove mental state for every element of the offense.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed & remanded

Facts: After Carnes and his girlfriend had an argument, Carnes packed and left the house. While he was outside, two deputies arrived in response to a domestic disturbance call from the residence. They did not use emergency lights, and pursuant to standard procedure, parked on the street and approached with flashlights. They were dressed in uniform. Without identifying themselves, they asked Carnes to step back from a truck that was running.…

McCulley v. U.S. Bank of Montana

McCulley v. U.S. Bank of Montana, 2015 MT 100 (April 14, 2105) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: Whether district court properly excluded lay witness testimony; (2) whether the district court properly excluded McCulley’s medical records; (3) whether McCulley presented sufficient evidence for the jury to find U.S. Bank committed actual fraud; (4) whether the district court properly held that U.S. Bank could be held liable for punitive damages from pre-merger conduct; (5) whether the district court properly upheld the jury’s punitive damages award; and (6) whether the district court properly ordered post-judgment interest to accrue from the date it confirmed the jury’s punitive damages award.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) yes; (3) yes; (4) yes; (5) yes; and (6) no.…

Mitchell v. Dept. of Justice

Mitchell v. Dept. of Justice, 2015 MT 120 (Apr. 8, 2015) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether a momentary deviation from a lane of traffic violates § 61-8-328, MCA.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: Officer began following two cars one night near Red Lodge. After some time, car in front of officer passed Mitchell, who was two cars ahead of patrolman. As it was passed, Mitchell’s car crossed yellow center line. Before being passed, Mitchell’s vehicle crossed the fog line. Officer stopped Mitchell and cited him for crossing center line. Mitchell refused a breath alcohol test, resulting in suspension of his driver’s license.

Procedural Posture & Holding: A month later, Mitchell petitioned the district court to reinstate his license. After a hearing, lower court denied the petition, finding Mitchell’s car slightly crossed over the center yellow line in violation of § 61-8-328, MCA.…

State v. Schwarzmeier

State v. Schwarzmeier, 2015 MT 98 (April 7, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether admission of a crime lab report showing defendant’s blood alcohol content at .193% violated the Confrontation Clause.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: Schwarzmeier crashed his motorcycle in July 2013. Trooper Fetterhoff responded, and Schwarzmeier was transported to the hospital, where Fetterhoff performed nystagmus tests, which indicated a high level of intoxication. Schwarzmeier consented to a blood draw, which was sent to the crime lab and showed a BAC of .193.

Schwarzmeier entered a not guilty plea and moved in limine to exclude any reports from the crime lab on the grounds that the state did not provide written notice of its intention to offer the report into evidence as required by M.R.…