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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. 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.…

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.…

Masters Group Internat’l, Inc. v. Comerica Bank

Masters Group Internat’l, Inc. v. Comerica Bank, 2015 MT 192 (July 1, 2015) (Baker, J. wrote an opinion in which Shea, J., joined; Shea, J. concurred; Rice, J., concurred and dissented and was joined by McKinnon, J.; Cotter, J., concurred and dissented, and was joined by McGrath, C.J., and Wheat, J.) (aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in denying Comerica’s motion to sever; (2) whether the district court erred in applying Montana law despite the contractual choice-of-law provision; (3) whether the district court erred in not deciding contract formation issues as a matter of law; (4) whether the district court erred by allowing TARP evidence to be presented to the jury.

Short Answer: (1) No (Baker, Shea, Cotter, McGrath, Wheat); (2) yes (Baker, Shea, Cotter, McGrath, Wheat); (3) no (5-Baker, Shea, Cotter, McGrath, Wheat- to 2-Rice, McKinnon); (4) yes (7-0 agree admission was error, but 4 (Baker, Shea, Rice.…