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State v. Erickson

State v. Erickson, 2018 MT 9 (Jan. 16, 2018) (Rice. J.) (5-0, aff’d, rev’d, & remanded)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Erickson’s motion to modify his criminal judgment.

Short Answer: No; however, Erickson can seek relief under § 46-18-246 and is permitted to do so on remand.

Affirmed, reversed, and remanded

Facts: Erickson and Johnson were involved in a fight in 2011, which resulted in Johnson falling, hitting his head, and sustaining a serious injury. In February 2013, a jury found Erickson guilty of criminal endangerment, and this Court affirmed in 2014.

At sentencing in 2013, the state sought restitution for Johnson’s medical care and lost wages. Erickson argued that those issues were more appropriately addressed in a civil case, which Johnson had already filed.…

Bitterrooters for Planning, Inc. v. Mont. Dept. of Envtl. Quality

Bitterrooters for Planning, Inc. v. Mont. Dept. of Envtl. Quality, 2017 MT 222 (Sept. 5, 2017) (Sandefur, J.) (7-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether MEPA requires DEQ to consider non-water-quality-related environmental impacts of the construction and operation of a retail store as secondary impacts of a groundwater discharge permit for an onsite wastewater treatment system; and (2) whether MEPA requires DEQ to identify the actual owner or operator of a wastewater treatment facility prior to issuing a groundwater discharge permit.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) yes.

Affirmed and reversed

Facts: In April 2014, DEQ received an application for a Montana groundwater pollution control system permit to discharge wastewater into groundwater on the site of a contemplated commercial development near Hamilton.…

City of Helena v. Community of Rimini

City of Helena v. Community of Rimini, 2017 MT 145 (June 13, 2017) (Wheat, J.; Rice, J., dissenting) (4-3, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether § 85-2-227(4), MCA, is impermissibly retroactive as applied to Helena’s water rights claim; (2) whether the Water Court erred in reinstating 7.35 cfs of Helena’s Tenmile Creek water rights; (3) whether the Water Court erred in finding Helena had abandoned .6 cfs of its Tenmile Creek water rights; and (4) whether the Water Court erred in imposing specific place of use restrictions on Helena’s decreed Tenmile Creek water rights.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) no; (3) yes; and (4)

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded

Facts: This case is on appeal for the second time, and involves two water rights claims filed by the city of Helena for waters of Tenmile Creek.…

Matter of Estate of Edwards, 2017 MT 93 (April 25, 2017) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in appointing a neutral personal representative; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion in evidentiary rulings at trial; (3) whether substantial credible evidence supported the jury’s findings that the 2012 will and the 2012 trust were procured by undue influence, fraud, or duress; (4) whether the district court erred in refusing to admit the 2010 will to probate or to enforce the 2010 trust after the jury’s verdict; and (5) whether the district court erred in refusing to award Verone attorney fees and certain costs.

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

Blaine County v. Stricker

Blaine County v. Stricker, 2017 MT 80 (April 11, 2017) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d and rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether Judge Sherlock correctly concluded that the commission improperly modified the hearing officer’s findings; and (2) whether Judge Reynolds correctly concluded that Judge Sherlock erred.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) no.

Affirmed and reversed

Facts: Allen Longsoldier, Jr., an 18-year-old Native American, died from delirium tremens while in custody at the Hill County Detention Center. Longsoldier’s estate brought this case from the Human rights Bureau, alleging discrimination on the basis of race and disability. The hearing officer concluded the counties had not discriminated against Longsoldier. The estate appealed to the Human Rights Commission, which found clear error in the findings and concluded the counties had discriminated and remanded to the hearing officer to determine the appropriate relief.…

State v. Spottedbear

State v. Spottedbear, 2016 MT 243 (Oct. 4, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the improper influence statute is unconstitutionally overbroad; (2) whether the state presented sufficient evidence of improper influence; (3) whether the state presented sufficient evidence to convict Spottedbear of criminal trespass; (4) whether the district court properly admitted evidence of Spottedbear’s prior incident with Officer Walker; and (5) whether trial counsel was ineffective.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) yes; (3) no; (4) yes; and (5) no.

Affirmed and reversed

Facts: In late February 2014, Officer Walker responded to a disturbance between Spottedbear and another customer at Wal-Mart. After speaking to a staff person at the store, Walker told Spottedbear to leave the store.…

Matter of Estate of McClure

Matter of Estate of McClure, 2016 MT 253 (Oct. 11, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether widow has an interest in the trust assets, and (2) whether McClure’s children forfeited their interest in the trust.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) no.

Affirmed and reversed

Facts: Jack McClure and his wife, Dixie, established a revocable living trust in 1993, using a form they obtained from an out-of-state company, which also provided Jack and Dixie with a binder of documents. The trust agreement stated that the trust’s primary purpose was to provide for Jack and Dixie during their lifetimes. It further provided that upon the death of either Jack or Dixie, the living spouse was to divide the trust estate into two more separate trusts – a survivor’s trust, which would continue to be revocable, and a decedent’s trust, which would be irrevocable.…

State v. Brave

State v. Brave, 2016 MT 178 (July 26, 2016) (Shea, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in ordering Brave to pay $25,000 in restitution, and (2) whether the district court erred in imposing several probation conditions.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) yes.

Affirmed (1) and reversed (2)

Facts: The state charged Brave with sexual intercourse without consent on the basis of his having committed the offense with AC, who then became pregnant and gave birth to twins. At the time of the offense, Brave was 18 and AC was 14. In May 2014, Brave pled guilty to an amended charge of criminal endangerment, a felony.

Procedural Posture & Holding: The district court held a restitution hearing in September 2014, and a sentencing hearing in November 2014, after which it issued a restitution order ordering Brave to pay $35,667.36 to AC’s mother, DC, which included $25,000 for DC’s lost wages during a 10-week FLA leave of absence that she took after the twins were born.…

Low v. Reick

Low v. Reick, 2016 MT 167 (July 12, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in holding that Reicks’ lot is encumbered by a single easement, the existing road, measured 10 feet from each side of the road’s centerline; (2) whether the district court erred by holding Low lacked authority to sign an application for a permit to improve Reicks’ lakeshore property; (3) whether the district court erred by concluding the maintenance agreement is unenforceable against Reicks for lack of consideration; (4) whether the district court erred in holding that Reicks did not breach the maintenance agreement; (5) whether the district court erred by concluding Low breached the road detour agreement, and awarding damages to Reicks; (6) whether the district court erred by concluding Reicks did not convert Low’s fill material; and (7) whether the district court erred in ordering Low to pay Reicks’ attorney’s fees and costs arising from their counterclaim.…

Rimrock Chrysler, Inc. v. State

Rimrock Chrysler, Inc. v. State, 2016 MT 165 (July 12, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred by assuming subject matter jurisdiction to review Lithia Motors’ administrative protest; and (2) whether the district court erred by dismissing Rimrock’s petition for judicial review on the grounds of mootness.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) yes.

Affirmed (1), reversed (2), and remanded

Facts: Lithia Motors bought a Dodge franchise in Billings in 2003. At the time, Dodge was a division of Chrysler, LLC (Old Chrysler). Old Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in April 2009. AS part of its restructuring, Old Chrysler rejected 789 existing dealer agreements, including Rimrock’s in May 2009. Most of Old Chrysler’s assets were sold to Chrysler Group, LLC (New Chrysler.…