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City of Libby v. Hubbard

City of Libby v. Hubbard, 2018 MT 2 (Jan. 2, 2018) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether Hubbard’s conviction should be reversed because of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Hubbard and her cousin went to a Libby casino to gamble. Hubbard presented a fake ID to obtain a gambling coupon. An employee recognized her and called police. Upon investigation, the officers confirmed that Hubbard had no outstanding warrants, but that her Oregon driver’s license was suspended. She was not cited for using the fake identification.

Shortly after, the officers were on patrol when they saw Hubbard driving. Knowing her license was suspended, they initiated a traffic stop, and arrested her.…

Marriage of Broesder

Marriage of Broesder, 2017 MT 223 (Sept. 12, 2017) (Rice, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by failing to consider the tax consequences of the distribution of the marital estate, resulting in an inequitable distribution.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Donald and Sandra married in 1976, and lived and worked on Donald’s family ranch for about 35 years. They own the ranch in a close corporation with their sons, Seth and Shane, and their daughter-in-law, Sarah. The corporation has restrictions on the sale of stock.…

Watters v. City of Billings

Watters v. City of Billings, 2017 MT 211 (Aug. 28, 2017) (Rice, J.; Wheat, J., dissenting) (5-2, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by holding the CBAs were unambiguous and excluding extrinsic evidence concerning their interpretation.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Officers are current and retired police officers and members of the union, which collectively bargains with the city. The central dispute in this case is the correct interpretation of the longevity pay provisions in the 2000-2003, 2003-2006, and 2006-2009 CBAs.…

Schweitzer v. City of Whitefish

Schweitzer v. City of Whitefish, 2016 MT 254 (Oct. 11, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by granting summary judgment on the basis of claim preclusion.

Short Answer: No.

Affirmed

Facts: Warren Schweitzer and Ingela Schnittger (Owners) own two lots in a Whitefish subdivision adjacent to Whitefish Lake, which the city of Whitefish has annexed. Owners have owned the property for several years. In 2005, Owners decided to tear their home down and build a new house. Their plans called for replacing the existing septic tank and drain field. Owners were advised they could hook up to the city water and sewer if their property was annexed into Whitefish. Owners successfully petitioned to be annexed in 2005.…

State v. Colburn

State v. Colburn, 2016 MT 246 (Oct. 4, 2016) (Rice, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (5-2, aff’d)

Issue: Whether sufficient evidence supported Colburn’s convictions of attempted sexual abuse of children.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: Colburn was a houseguest of his supervisor at the youth center/video store where he volunteered, staying in her converted garage. His supervisor noticed that someone had entered the term “preteen pussy” into a search engine on the video store computer. She texted Colburn to ask if she could use his person computer in the converted garage. He consented, and she found similar terms on that computer. She reported her findings to the police chief, who obtained and executed a search warrant of the garage, removing Colburn’s computer.…

State v. Allen

State v. Allen, 2016 MT 185 (Aug. 2, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court by denying Allen’s motion to dismiss multiple charges of violating an order of protection pursuant to § 46-11-410(2); and (2) whether the district court by denying Allen’s motion to dismiss multiple charges of violating an order of protection on double jeopardy grounds.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) this issue was not preserved for appeal.

Affirmed

Facts: Allen sent 35 messages to his ex-girlfriend, BD, in a two-hour period on day in September 2014. BD had an order of protection against Allen, and alerted the police to the messages.…

Reinlasoder v. City of Colstrip

Reinlasoder v. City of Colstrip, 2016 MT 175 (July 19, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Colstrip’s motion for judgment as a matter of law when Reinlasoder did not dispute that he had sexually harassed an employee.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded for entry of judgment for Colstrip

Facts: Colstrip discharged Reinlasoder from his position as Colstrip’s chief of police in May 2012, a position he had held since May 2004. Reinlasoder sued Colstrip for wrongful discharge, and Colstrip answered that it had fired him for good cause. Colstrip alleged numerous instances of misconduct, including pornographic emails, lying on his job application, insubordinate conduct, intimidating a female dispatcher, and sexually harassing a female dispatcher.…

In the Matter of Parenting ZDL-B

In the Matter of Parenting ZDL-B, 2016 MT 164 (July 12, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred by modifying the parenting plan because changed circumstances did not exist; (2) whether the district court’s findings regarding the child’s best interests were clearly erroneous; and (3) whether the district court erred in denying mother’s request for attorney fees and costs.

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

Affirmed

Facts: Z was born in 2003 to Jessica and Daniel, both of whom were in high school. Jessica was Z’s primary provider, with help from Daniel and their families. Jessica and Daniel did not marry, and parented Z without significant court intervention. Jessica petitioned for a parenting plan in 2005, and the court adopted a stipulated plan.…

In the Matter of AS & AM

In the Matter of AS & AM, 2016 MT 156 (June 28, 2016) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion and violated Mother’s constitutional rights by terminating her parental rights; and (2) whether the district court lacked jurisdiction and abused its discretion in terminating Father’s parental rights to AS. 

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

Affirmed

Facts: AS was born in 2011, and AM was born in 2008. DPHHS became involved with the family in 2014 upon receiving reports that Father, Mother, and Mother’s boyfriend were involved with methamphetamine. The department found AS but did not find father. AS was placed into protective custody, and the parents were served by publication.

A few months later, Mother called the department and told a child protective specialist she was in Great Falls and wanted to pick up her daughter.  …

Petaja v. Montana Public Employees’ Association (MPEA)

Petaja v. Montana Public Employees’ Association (MPEA), 2016 MT 143 (June 8, 2016) (Rice, J.; McGrath, C.J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether substantial evidence supported the jury verdict finding MPEA breached its duty of fair representation; (2) whether the jury verdict was contrary to the instructions and the law; (3) whether Petaja’s claim was barred by res judicata; and (4) whether the district court had authority to award attorney fees. 

Short Answer: (1) Yes; (2) no; (3) this claim was waived for purposes of appellate review; and (4) no.

Affirmed

Facts: Petaja was terminated from her position with Lewis and Clark County as the clinic coordinator of the WIC program. The county claimed Petaja was terminated due to reorganization; she claims she was terminated because of her age, 59.…