Montana Supreme Court

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Office of Disciplinary Counsel files complaint against Wittich

Wittich

The state Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed a complaint against former state Sen. Art Wittich on Monday, charging him with professional misconduct. The complaint, filed with the Commission on Practice of the Montana Supreme Court by Chief Disciplinary Counsel Michael Cotter, stems from Wittich’s trial in 2016, when he was found liable for violations of state campaign finance laws. This past August, the state high court turned down Wittich’s four-part appeal of that decision. (more…) Continue Reading →

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High court backs city in cop lawsuit, case to continue

Patrol cars

A Montana Supreme Court ruling will send back to District Court a lawsuit filed against the city of Billings by a group of current and retired city police officers. The ruling came down Monday, just shy of a year after the city was dinged for more than $2.7 million in back pay, fines and legal fees. The suit was filed in 2009 by 27 police officers, who said the city had incorrectly calculated their longevity pay, going back as far as 1994. (more…) Continue Reading →

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High court rejects Wittich appeal in corruption case

Wittich

The Montana Supreme Court has denied former state Sen. Art Wittich’s four-part appeal of his conviction on charges of violating Montana’s campaign finance laws. Justice Beth Baker said in the 42-page opinion that the high court affirmed all of the District Court judge’s rulings in the case, and it found that former state Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl did nothing illegal in filing the action against Wittich in District Court. (more…) Continue Reading →

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High court opinion references, among others, Notorious B.I.G.

Shea

We cannot say for certain, but we are willing to bet that a Montana Supreme Court opinion issued Tuesday was the first one ever to bolster its conclusions by referencing the rapper Notorious B.I.G., the hip-hop group N.W.A. and two popular crime dramas, “The Wire” and “Scarface.” The opinion was written by Justice James Shea in an appeal of a Ravalli County District Court ruling in a case involving methamphetamine possession. The appeal was filed by Bruce Anthony Glass, who was handed a five-year sentence on Nov. 19, 2015. The basis of Glass’s appeal was a claim of double jeopardy. Continue Reading →

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Conduct code for lawyers stirs Supreme Court furor

Law

The Montana Supreme Court has delayed action on a proposed change in the professional code of conduct for lawyers that has drawn hundreds of complaints from people who say the change threatens lawyers’ First Amendment rights. The proposed change comes from the American Bar Association, which adopted it in August. The change considers it professional misconduct for a lawyer to “engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.” (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Glimmers of good sense in election results

Fliers

Three weeks ago in this space, I urged readers of Last Best News to vote for Gov. Steve Bullock and Montana Supreme Court candidate Dirk Sandefur, and in favor of Initiative 182, loosening restrictions on medical marijuana. I won’t claim one iota of credit, but I will admit that on an otherwise dismal Election Day, I was buoyed by the victories of Bullock, Sandefur and the proponents of I-182. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Forget Trump, here are 2 key state races

EK

If I thought it would make the slightest difference, I would urge readers of Last Best News to vote for Hillary Clinton, given the mountain of evidence that Donald Trump is completely unfit to be president. But it appears that Montana voters are going to favor Trump in any case. Fortunately, it appears just as likely that the country as a whole will reject him by a large margin. (more…) Continue Reading →

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High court candidates clash over experience, bias

Forum

The two candidates running for the only contested seat on the Montana Supreme Court this year sparred repeatedly during a public forum Thursday over questions of experience and ideological bias. Dirk Sandefur, who was a police officer in Havre for three years and a deputy county attorney for eight years before becoming a Cascade County district judge in 2002, said “there is no substitute for experience.” (more…) Continue Reading →

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Athlete’s privacy rights debated in Krakauer’s high court hearing

The Montana Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments in a case that pits the public’s right to know against a student’s right to privacy, and whether a lower court erred in granting author Jon Krakauer access to the student’s disciplinary records. Krakauer is seeking records pertaining to the 2012 disciplinary proceedings of Jordan Johnson, the former starting quarterback for the University of Montana football team. The proceedings found Johnson guilty of rape and ordered him expelled from school. Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian overturned the decision, however, and Johnson was never expelled. He was later found not guilty in Missoula District Court. Continue Reading →

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