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State v. Ailer

State v. Ailer, 2018 MT 18 (Feb. 6, 2018) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Ailer’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim; (2) whether evidence of Ailer’s wages being garnished is a “bad act” and inadmissible character evidence; and (3) whether substantial evidence supported the district court’s restitution order.

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

Affirmed

Facts: A few weeks after being released to full-duty employment after a car accident, Matthew Ailer filed a work comp claim, reporting that a heavy floor burnisher fell on him as he was lifting it into his work truck. A coworker, Russell, and Ailer’s fiancée were with Ailer when the accident occurred, and took him to the hospital.…

State v. Jeffries

State v. Jeffries, 2018 MT 17 (Feb. 6, 2018) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the municipal court a used its discretion by denying Jeffries’ motion to exclude breath evidence.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Jeffries was stopped by Missoula police early one morning while driving with no tail lights. Jeffries’ vehicle had a large portion of its front bumper missing, only one working headlight, and was dripping fluid. Investigation revealed recent property damage along Jeffries’ route with pieces of her vehicle left behind. The officer noticed Jeffries’ speech was slurred. Jeffries admitted to having two or three mixed drinks several hours earlier. A second police officer also noticed Jeffries’s speech was slurred and that her eyes were bloodshot, she was unsteady on her feet, and her breath smelled strongly of alcohol.…

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.…

McColl v. Lang

McColl v. Lang, 2016 MT 255 (Oct. 11, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in granting Lang’s motion to exclude certain evidence, and (2) whether the district court abused its discretion in denying McColl’s motion to exclude the testimony of Lang’s expert witness.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Lang is a licensed naturopathic physician. McColl saw Lang in 2012 and discussed a blemish on her nose that she wished to remove. A month later, McColl returned to Lang’s office where he applied black salve, an escharotic agent, to the blemish on McColl’s nose. Lang sent her home with instructions to return. A few days later, McColl returned and Lang reapplied black salve.…

State v. Weber

State v. Weber, 2016 MT 138 (June 7, 2016) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion by refusing to admit the inventory list offered by defense counsel; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion by limiting defense counsel’s examination of defense investigator Peck; and (3) whether defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to admit the evidence.

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

Reversed and remanded for a new trial

Facts: Weber was a janitor at Sydney High School. He was working the night a tool used to cut metal and steel went missing from the high school shop classroom. The principal later identified Weber on surveillance video on the shop the night the plasma cutter disappeared.…

State v. Awbery

State v. Awbery, 2016 MT 48 (March 1, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.; Cotter, J., concurring) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly excluded evidence that some of the victims had suffered prior sexual abuse by others; (2) whether Awbery is entitled to a new trial based on prosecutorial misconduct; and (3) whether Awbery is entitled to a new trial based on the cumulative effect of several alleged errors.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) no; and (3) no.

Affirmed

Facts: The state charged Awbery with two counts of incest against his daughter, AA, when she was 12 or younger; sexual assault and sexual intercourse without consent against AA’s half-sister, JG, when she was 16 or younger; sexual intercourse without consent again IA when she was 12 or younger; and sexual assault against NH when she was 16 or younger.…

Cleveland v. Ward

Cleveland v. Ward, 2016 MT 10 (Jan. 12, 2016) (Shea, J.; Cotter, J., concurring) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court improperly excluded trial testimony of Cleveland’s treating physician; (2) whether the district court improperly excluded trial testimony of Cleveland’s physical therapist; (3) whether the district court erred in granting a directed verdict on Cleveland’s claim that her rotator cuff tear and shoulder arthritis were caused by the collision; and (4) whether the district court erred in concluding that Cleveland could not recover damages incurred by Shelby House.

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

Affirmed

Whitefish Credit Union v. Prindiville

Whitefish Credit Union v. Prindiville, 2015 MT 328 (Nov. 24, 2015) (Rice, J.) (6-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred by holding that a hearing was required as a matter of law to determine the fair market value of the foreclosed property; (2) whether the district court’s valuation of the foreclosed property was supported by credible evidence; and (3) whether the district court erred by improperly admitting evidence at the hearing.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) the Court does not reach this issue because (3) yes, the district court abused its for a rehearing.

Affirmed & reversed & remanded

Facts: Defendants Prindivilles, Shinns, and Rothschild acquired more than 600 acres of land on Patrick Creek Road with a loan from Whitefish Credit Union for $2.237 million.…

Siebken v. Voderberg

Siebken v. Voderberg, 2015 MT 296 (Oct. 13, 2015) (Baker, J.; Cotter, J., concurring) (6-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether Siebken is entitled to a new trial based on the district court’s admission of a letter regarding Siebken’s medical history and diagnosis; (2) whether Siebken is entitled to a new trial because the district court erroneously instructed the jury on the statute of limitations; and (3) whether substantial evidence supported the jury verdict.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) the Court declines to review this issue because Siebken did not preserve the issue for appeal; and (3) yes.

Affirmed

Facts: In Siebken I, this Court reversed summary judgment for Voderberg on statute of limitations grounds. On remand, the primary factual dispute at trial was when the three-year statute began to run on Siebken’s negligence claim.…

Reese v. Stanton

Reese v. Stanton, 2015 MT 293 (Oct. 13, 2015) (Rice. J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in admitting into evidence opinions and reports of doctors who did not testify at trial; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion when it excluded evidence of the original charges billed by medical providers; and (3) whether the district court abused its discretion in striking portions of a video deposition as previously undisclosed expert opinion.

Short Answer: (1) yes, and the error affected the outcome of trial; (2) yes, as held in Meek; and (3) no.

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for a new trial

Facts: In November 2009, while working for Montana Coffee Traders, Inc., Robin Reese was injured while riding in a van struck by a bus owned by Harlow’s School Bus Service.…