Archive | McKinnon, J. (concurring)

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Clark Fork Coalition v. Tubbs

Clark Fork Coalition v. Tubbs, 2017 MT 184 (July 25, 2017) (Baker, J.; McKinnon, J., specially concurring) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the Coalition was entitled to attorney fees under the private attorney general doctrine following it successful challenge to the DNRC’s exempt-well rule.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: The Clark Fork Coalition and other plaintiffs challenged a DNRC rule regarding groundwater appropriations exempt from permitting requirements (the exempt-well rule). The district court invalidated the rule and this Court affirmed. Clark Fork I, 2016 MT 229.

Prior to this Court’s decision in Clark Fork I, the Coalition had moved for fees under the PAG doctrine and the district court had granted the motion. The court held that the DNRC’s promulgation of the 1993 rule was not a quasi0judicial function, and reasoning that the litigation implicated constitutional interests.…

State v. Cheetham

State v. Cheetham, 2016 MT 151 (June 16, 2014) (Baker, J.; McKinnon, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion by failing to conduct an adequate inquiry into Cheetham’s request for substitute counsel; and (2) whether Cheetham was denied effective assistance of counsel.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) the record is insufficient to make this determination on direct appeal, and is better suited for a postconviction proceeding.


Facts: In January 2014, Cheetham was charged with sexual intercourse without consent, sexual assault, and sexual abuse of children, all of which were alleged to have occurred in 2004 when Cheetham and the victim, NS, were living with the victim’s grandmother. At the time of the offenses, Cheetham was 32 and NS was 5.…

Draggin’ Y Cattle Company, Inc. v. Addink

Draggin’ Y Cattle Company, Inc. v. Addink, 2016 MT 98 (May 3, 2016) (Baker, J.; Rice, J., concurring; McKinnon, J., concurring & dissenting; McGrath, C.J. & Wheat, J., recused themselves) (5-0, appeal dismissed)

Issue: Whether New York Marine timely raised its disqualification claim, and if so, whether the claim should be considered on the merits given that the judge did not disclose circumstances that could cause the judge’s impartiality to be reasonably questioned.

Short Answer: Under these circumstances, the claim is not waived. The Court holds Judge Huss had a duty to disclose but declines to determine whether Judge Huss should have been disqualified for cause. It remands for determination of the disqualification issue by a district judge it will assign.…

In the Matter of JB, Jr.

In the Matter of JB, Jr., 2016 MT 68 (March 22, 2016) (Rice, J.; McKinnon, J, concurring; Baker, J., dissenting) (5-1, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in holding that the treatment plan was appropriate, and (2) whether the district court abuse its discretion in terminating Father’s parental rights.

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


Facts: When JB was just a few weeks old, his parents took him shoplifting. Father was on probation and had two outstanding felony warrants for his arrest. The Department investigated and petitioned for protective services, adjudication of JB as a youth in need of care, and temporary legal custody. JB was placed in foster care with his sibling, EB, and Father was sentenced to 10 years suspended on each of the two outstanding felonies, to run concurrently with another unspecified sentence he was serving.…

Montana Cannabis Industry Assoc. v. State

Montana Cannabis Industry Assoc. v. State, 2016 MT 44 (Feb. 25, 2016) (Baker, J., for the majority; McKinnon, J., concurring & dissenting; Rice, J., concurring & dissenting; Wheat, J.,concurring & dissenting) (6-1 on 5 of 6 issues; 4-3 on the 6th issue; aff’d & rev’d) (Cotter, J., recused and replaced by District Judge Robert Olson)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly held unconstitutional the statutory requirement that DPHHS notify the Board of Medical Examiners of any physician who certifies more than 25 patients a year for medical marijuana; (2) whether the district court properly held unconstitutional (a) the statute’s 3-patient limit and (b) the remuneration restriction; (3) whether the district court properly applied strict scrutiny to the statutory provision prohibiting advertising by medical marijuana providers; (4) whether the district court properly held that the statutory provision prohibiting probationers from becoming registered cardholders for medical marijuana was facially constitutional; and (5) whether the district court properly held constitutional the statutory provision allowing warrantless inspections of medical marijuana providers’ business by DPHHS and law enforcement.…

State v. Colburn

State v. Colburn, 2016 MT 41 (Feb. 23, 2016) (McGrath, C.J.; McKinnon, J., concurring) (7-0, rev’d & remanded)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in disqualifying Colburn’s expert witness from testifying at trial; and (2) whether the district court erred in its application of the Rape Shield law to exclude evidence Colburn offered at trial.

Short Answer: (1) Yes; and (2) yes.

Reversed and remanded for a new trial

Facts: The state charged Colburn with two counts of incest involving his daughter, CC, one count of sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of sexual assault involving a neighbor girl, RW, all felonies. Both girls were 11 years old at the time of the offenses. RW testified at trial that Colburn touched her private parts manually and with his penis.…

State v. Favel

State v. Favel, 2015 MT 336 (Dec. 2, 2015) (McKinnon, J.; McKinnon, J., specially concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the prosecution improperly commented on the statutory inference of intoxication under § 61-8-404(2) and asserted that Favel was responsible for establishing her innocence, thereby denying Favel her right to a fair and impartial trial.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: Havre police officer Sgt. Poulos stopped a car and identified Favel as the driver. Favel’s eyes were red and glassy, she was slurring her speech, and the officer smelled alcohol on her breath. Favel failed standard field sobriety tests, and refused a breath test. Eventually Poulos obtained a search warrant for Favel’s blood, which revealed a BAC of .13 percent.

The state charged Favel with felony DUI, fourth or subsequent offense.…

Matter of MP-L

Matter of MP-L, 2015 MT 338 (Dec. 2, 2015) (Wheat, J.; McKinnon, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in failing to provide a detailed statement of facts supporting its finding that MP-L required commitment in its first order; (2) whether the district court’s second order was procedurally invalid; and (3) whether the district court’s two orders together provide a sufficiently detailed statement of facts.

Short Answer: (1) Yes. The state acknowledges the order does not conform to the statute; (2) no; and (3) yes.


Facts: In May 2014, MP-L suffered a series of events triggered by her inability to obtain her depression/anxiety medication because of issues with Medicaid. She was voluntarily admitted to a crisis facility on May 27, 2014, and determined to be at high risk of suicide.…

State v. Northcutt

State v. Northcutt, 2015 MT 267 (Sept. 8, 2015) (Baker, J.; McKinnon, J., concurring) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court violated Northcutt’s right to be present and right to a public trial by asking the jury about the status of its deliberations without the defendant and the public present.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: The state charged Northcutt with three counts of assaulting a peace officer and one count of aggravated animal cruelty. On the third day of trial, the jury began deliberating around 4:30 p.m. At around 5:30 p.m., the jury sent a note to the court asking to see one of the demonstrative exhibits, which the court and the parties agreed to supply. The jury sent a second note around 7:30 p.m.…

In re TDH, JH, & JH

In re TDH, JH, & JH, 2015 MT 244 (Aug. 18, 2015) (Baker. J.; McKinnon, J., concurring & dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in rescinding OPD’s appointment of counsel for Ja.H. and denying OPD’s motion to appoint counsel after the termination hearing; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion in concluding Mother’s conduct made her unfit to parent and was unlikely to change within a reasonable time; (3) whether DPHHS made reasonable efforts to prevent the removal of the children and reunify Mother with her children; and (4) whether Mother was denied due process.

Short Answer: (1) The Court declines to reach this issue; (2) no; (3) yes; and (4) no.


Facts: Mother met Father when she was a 17-year-old runaway, after years of abuse.…