State v. Montgomery

State v. Montgomery, 2016 MT 169 (July 12, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Montgomery’s motion to vacate his conviction and dismiss all charges.

Short Answer: No, because Montgomery has made these same claims repeatedly, and is therefore barred under the doctrine of res judicata from raising them again.

Affirmed

Facts: Montgomery pled no contest to felony incest and was given a 20-year suspended sentence in 2004. In 2006 he was charged with numerous felony count of sexual abuse and sexual assault of four children. He pled guilty to two counts of felony sexual assault in exchange for the dismissal of the remaining counts and withdrawal of a persistent felony offender designation. In January 2007, the district court sentenced Montgomery to 20 years in Montana State Prison with 10 years suspended for each felony, to run consecutively with the sexual assault convictions.

Montgomery moved to withdraw his pleas to all of the charges. In October 2008, the district court denied the motions in both cases. Montgomery appealed, and this Court concluded the motions were time-barred. 2010 MT 193.

Montgomery then petitioned for habeas corpus, claiming his incarceration was illegal and his three convictions were illegal because the court had not authority to accept a no-contest plea in a sex offense case. The Court concluded he was procedurally barred from raising issues that could have been raised on direct appeal.

In May 2013, Montgomery again sought habeas corpus relief, and the Court again dismissed.

In October 2014, Montgomery moved to vacate his conviction and dismiss the charge. The district court denied the motion, and Montgomery appealed. This Court affirmed. 2015 MT 151. The Court denied a subsequent petition for habeas filed in August 2015.

Procedural Posture & Holding: Montgomery moved to vacate his conviction and dismiss the charges in October 2015. The district court summarily denied the motion, and Montgomery appeals. The Supreme Court affirms.

Reasoning: Res judicata bars relitigation of issues in criminal cases if three criteria are met. Finding all three met herein, the Court concludes Montgomery’s claims are barred by res judicata.