Archive | McKinnon, J.

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State v. Kline

State v. Kline, 2016 MT 177 (July 19, 2016) (McKinnon, J.; Baker, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in concluding SK was not legally accountable for Kline’s incest, and (2) whether sufficient evidence corroborated SK’s testimony.

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

Affirmed

Facts: The state charged Kline with criminal distribution of drugs, endangering the welfare of children, and incest, all felonies, in December 2013. According to the information, Kline committed these offenses by giving methamphetamine to SK, his daughter, allowing SK to ingest meth while in his care, and having sexual intercourse or sexual contact with SK.…

Hanson v. State

Hanson v. State, 2016 MT 152 (June 21, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court abused its discretion in dismissing Hanson’s petition for postconviction relief as a sanction for failing to comply with discovery.

Short Answer:  No.

Affirmed

Facts: Hanson was convicted of sexual assault and deviate sexual conduct for offenses involving a young boy. His conviction was affirmed in 1997. He filed a petition for postconviction relief, which the district court denied for insufficiency in form. This Court affirmed in 1999. Hanson petitioned for habeas corpus, and his petition was demised as procedurally defaulted. Hanson appealed and the Ninth Circuit affirmed in 2003.…

In the Matter of SH

In the Matter of SH, 2016 MT 137 (June 7, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court relied on sufficient evidence to determine SH required commitment, and (2) whether SH received ineffective assistance of counsel.

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

Affirmed

Facts: SH sought help from the Billings Clinic ER in November 2014, complaining there were snakes in her stomach, black bugs in the toilet, and the voices of God and Satan were arguing in her head. A psychiatrist at the clinic examined her and, upon his recommendation, the state petitioned to involuntarily commit SH on November 12, 2014. The district court ordered SH detained at the clinic pending resolution of the petition, appointed counsel to represent SH, and appointed the clinic psychiatrist as the professional person to evaluate SH.…

Fire Insurance Exchange v. Weitzel

Fire Insurance Exchange v. Weitzel, 2016 MT 113 (May 17, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by concluding Fire Insurance Exchange (FIE) had a duty to defend Weitzel under the terms of the insurance policy.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in FIE’s favor

Facts: The estate of Ronny Groff brought suit against Jake Weitzel, alleging that Weitzel gained the trust of Groff, an elderly man, and then absconded with Groff’s property and assets over a number of years. Groff’s children hired Weitzel in 2010 to provide in-home care services to Groff and his wife, who died in 2011. Weitzel provided services until Ronny died in July 2013.

The estate’s complaint alleges that after Ronny’s wife died, Weitzel began to wrongfully exert control over Ronny and exploit him to her financial gain.  …

State v. Crawford

State v. Crawford, 2016 MT 96 (April 26, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Crawford’s motion to suppress; (2) whether Crawford received ineffective assistance of counsel; (3) whether the district court improperly denied Crawford’s third discovery request; (4) whether the district court erred by denying Crawford’s post-trial motion to dismiss; and (5) whether the district court adequately addressed Crawford’s complaints about his assigned counsel.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Crawford was released on parole in December 2010 after incarceration at Montana State Prison for multiple drug-related felony convictions. As a condition of his parole, he was required to obtain written permission from his parole officer before traveling outside of Silver Bow, Beaverhead, Jefferson or Deer Lodge counties.…

Ray v. Connell

Ray v. Connell, 2016 MT 95 (April 26, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in granting Connell summary judgment on Ray’s defamation claim based on a conversation between Connell and Ronquillo; (2) whether the district court erred in granting Connell summary judgment on Ray’s defamation claim based on comments Connell made at two Billings City Council meetings; and (3) whether the district court erred in granting Connell summary judgment on Ray’s claims of tortious interference and general damages based on Connell’s alleged defamation of Ray’s character.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Ray and Connell are real estate agents who own land in the East Billings Urban Revitalization District (EBURD).…

In the Matter of KB

In the Matter of KB, 2016 MT 73 (March 29, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over KB’s abuse and neglect proceeding, and (2) whether Father received ineffective assistance of counsel.

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

Affirmed

Facts: KB was removed from her mother’s care in November 2012, at the age of 5, due to concerns about Mother’s inability to protect KB from domestic violence. KB was placed in kinship foster care with her aunt and uncle, where she has remained. Her younger sister, TH, also lives with aunt and uncle.

KB was adjudicated a youth in need of care in 2013, and the Department drafted a treatment plan for Father.…

Heavygun v. State

Heavygun v. State, 2016 MT 66 (March 22, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether Heavygun received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Heavygun was charged with and convicted of deliberate homicide, felony DUI, violation of an order of protection, felony criminal endangerment, driving with a suspended or revoked license, and felony tampering with physical evidence. He was sentenced to life in prison plus other concurrent sentences. His conviction was affirmed by this Court in 2011.

Procedural Posture & Holding: Heavygun petitioned for postconviction relief, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court denied the petition, and Heavygun appeals. The Supreme Court affirms. 

Reasoning: Heavygun argues ineffective assistance on the grounds that: 1) he was represented by six public defenders, three of whom were his attorney of record; 2) his attorney failed to investigate and present evidence of his victim’s history of violence; and 3) his attorney failed to adequately prepare him to testify.…

Bergum v. Musselshell County

Bergum v. Musselshell County, 2016 MT 47 (March 1, 2016) (McKinnon, J.; Baker, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in concluding the statute of limitations in § 2214, RCM (1935) barred Bergum’s quiet title action, and (2) whether the district court erred in denying Musselshell County its attorney fees under § 25-7-105, MCA.

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

Affirmed

Facts: This case involves the disputed ownership of subsurface mineral rights to 320.58 acres of coal-rich land in Musselshell County. In 1908, Lincoln and Annie Westcott received patents for adjacent parcels of 160 and 160.58 acres, for which they paid $1,600 and $1,605.80 respectively. Lincoln then conveyed his patented 160 acres to Annie.…

Sparks v. Emmert

Sparks v. Emmert, 2016 MT 43 (Feb. 23, 2016) (McKinnon, J.; McGrath, C.J., concurring) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Emmert.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed

Facts: Kurt Heigis executed a quitclaim deed conveying his home to Frances Emmert in 2001. According to Emmert, on the day the deed was executed, June 17, 2001, Heigis personally delivered it to Emmert at her home in Reed Point, Montana. He told Emmert to keep it and not record it until something happened to him. Emmert contends that she and Heigis agreed Heigis would continue to live on his property, maintain it and pay all expenses. Emmert stored the deed in her safe.…