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State v. Crawford

State v. Crawford, 2016 MT 96 (April 26, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in denying Crawford’s motion to suppress; (2) whether Crawford received ineffective assistance of counsel; (3) whether the district court improperly denied Crawford’s third discovery request; (4) whether the district court erred by denying Crawford’s post-trial motion to dismiss; and (5) whether the district court adequately addressed Crawford’s complaints about his assigned counsel.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) no; (3) no; (4) no; and (5) yes.


Facts: Crawford was released on parole in December 2010 after incarceration at Montana State Prison for multiple drug-related felony convictions. As a condition of his parole, he was required to obtain written permission from his parole officer before traveling outside of Silver Bow, Beaverhead, Jefferson or Deer Lodge counties.…

State v. Emerson

State v. Emerson, 2015 MT 254 (Aug. 26, 2015) (Shea, J.) (6-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in denying Emerson’s motion to suppress because her consent to a search was the fruit of an illegal seizure.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: Deputy Robins stopped a vehicle near Shelby because he recognized the driver, Joseph Bentley, and knew there was a felony warrant out for his arrest. Emerson was a passenger in Bentley’s car. Bentley was arrested and the car was released to Emerson.

About an hour later, Emerson went to the Toole County sheriff’s office to request a gas card, but it didn’t have any. Emerson left the buildlng. A few min utes later, the sheriff’s office received a teletype from the Great Falls police department with an attempt to locate the car Emerson was driving.…

State v. Spady

State v. Spady, 2015 MT 218 (July 30, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.) (7-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred when it granted Spady’s motion to dismiss and concluded the 24/7 Sobriety Program is unconstitutional.

Short Answer: The Court holds that the 24/7 program is constitutional, but that state law and due process require an individualized assessment to determine whetherae defendant is an appropriate candidate for the program. Because the justice court did not conduct such an assessment here, the Court affirms the district court’s decision to remand Spady’s case to justice court with instructions to dismiss the contempt charges against him.

Affirmed and reversed, remanded with instructions

Facts: The 2011 Legislature enacted the 24/7 Sobriety Program Act, §§ 44-4-1201 through -1206, MCA.…

State v. McKeever

State v. McKeever, 2015 MT 177 (June 24, 2015) (McGrath, C.J.; McKinnon, J., concurring) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether district court properly denied McKeever’s motion to suppress.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: In December 2012 a police officer stopped McKeever’s car after recognizing him as a person with a suspended driver’s license. The officer noted that McKeever was nervous, trembling, and swallowing frequently. After confirming McKeever’s license was suspended, the officer placed McKeever under arrest. McKeever consented to a search of his vehicle, and a second officer arrived and conducted a pat-down search, which revealed a prescription medication bottle for a drug called Alprazolam in the cuff of McKeever’s pants leg. The label indicated the prescription was for someone else.

One or both of the officers opened the bottle and saw that it contained tissue paper over a few pills.…

State v. Urziceanu

State v. Urziceanu, 2015 MT 58 (Feb. 24, 2015) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether deputies violated defendant’s constitutional rights by entering his property to assist with a civil standby.

Short Answer: No, based on the plain view doctrine.


Facts: Sheriff’s deputies accompanied Christine Robutka to a 15-acre rural property so that she could remove her belongings. Robutka lived with two men at the property, one of them Urziceanu, and was worried they might cause trouble upon her moving out.

The property is fenced and marked with no trespassing signs, with the house at the end of a 100-foot private driveway. Three deputies in two vehicles drove halfway up the driveway behind Robutka, and parked. One testified that upon getting out of his car, he saw a glassed-in porch in which he saw several marijuana plants.…