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Commissioner of Political Practices v. Bannan

Commissioner of Political Practices v. Bannan, 2015 MT 220 (Aug. 4, 2015) (Cotter, J.) (7-0, appeal dismissed)

Issue: Whether the Lewis & Clark County District Court had subject matter jurisdiction over the commissioner’s enforcement action against Bannan.

Short Answer: Yes, the district court had subject matter jurisdiction. The real issue on appeal is an issue of statutory interpretation, and this appeal is premature.

Appeal dismissed

Facts: Terry Bannan was an unsuccessful candidate for the Montana Legislature in the 2010 primary. Commissioner Motl issued a decision in January 2014, concluding there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate Bannan had violated various campaign practices and finance law warranting civil adjudication.

The commissioner forwarded his decision to the Lewis and Clark county attorney for consideration of pursuing an action against Bannan.…

Murray v. Motl

Murray v. Motl, 2015 MT 216 (July 28, 2015) (Cotter, J.; McKinnon, J., concurring) (7-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in dismissing Murray’s declaratory relief action for lacking a justiciable controversy.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: Murray was an unsuccessful candidate for the Montana Legislature in the June 2010 primary. On Dec. 18, 2013, the Commissioner of Political Practices issued a decision finding sufficient evidence Murray had violated Montana’s campaign practice laws and that civil adjudication was warranted. The commissioner forwarded the decision to the Lewis & Clark county attorney for consideration, and the county attorney waived his right to participate.

In January 2014, Murray filed an action for declaratory relief in Gallatin County, where he resides, seeking a determination that the commissioner violated § 13-37-124, MCA, when he referred the sufficiency decision to the Lewis & Clark county attorney rather than the Gallatin county attorney.…

Wagman v. Motl

Wagman v. Motl, 2015 MT 168 (June 23, 2015) (Rice, J.) (5-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by transferring Wagman’s declaratory judgment action to Lewis & Clark County.

Short Answer: No, transfer was warranted, but the district court lacked power to transfer to a specific department and judge.

Affirmed in part and reversed in part

Facts: Pat Wagman was a 2010 candidate for state Senate District 31, which included all of Park County and most of Sweet Grass County. The Commissioner of Political Practices, Jonathan Motl, filed a civil enforcement action against Wagman in Lewis & Clark County. Before filing, Motl notified the Lewis & Clark County attorney, providing an opportunity for the county attorney to prosecute.…