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State v. Thompson

State v. Thompson, 2015 MT 279 (Sept. 18, 2015) (McKinnon, J.; Wheat, J., dissenting) (4-1, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the justice court had good cause to conduct Thompson’s trial after the six-month deadline provided by statute.

Short Answer: Yes.


Facts: The state charged Thompson with DUI on Oct. 11, 2011, and that same day he pled not guilty in justice court. He appeared with counsel at the omnibus hearing Dec. 27, 2011, and requested a jury trial. The justice court set trial for March 22, 2012, with a pretrial conference March 16, 2012. The notice stated the defendant was required to personally attend the pretrial conference, and if he failed to do so he would be deemed to have waived his right to a jury trial, and jus trial date would be vacated and reset for a bench trial at the next available time.…

State v. Maloney

State v. Maloney, 2015 MT 227 (Aug. 5, 2015) (Wheat, J.; Rice, J. concurring) (4-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether Maloney’s right to a speedy trial was violated as a result of excessive pretrial delays caused by the state; and (2) whether Maloney’s right to due process was violated as a result of excessive post-trial, pre-sentencing delays caused by the state.

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


Facts: Maloney was arrested April 2, 2013, following an incident at his house in Butte, as a result of which he was charged with five counts of felony criminal endangerment and two counts of felony assault on a peace officer. An information was filed May 1, 2013, and trial was scheduled for Oct.…

State v. Betterman

State v. Betterman, 2015 MT 39 (Feb. 10, 2015) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether Betterman was denied due process by virtue of the delay between conviction and sentencing.

Short Answer: No, overruling State v. Mooney.


Facts: Betterman was sentenced for family member assault in March 2012, and remanded to the Butte-Silver Bow detention center for arraignment on bail jumping charges. In December 2012, the district court scheduled sentencing for January 17, 2013. On that day, Betterman moved to dismiss, alleging a speedy-trial violation based on the delay in his sentencing. No hearing was held, and the district court issued an order denying the motion on April 29, 2013.

On May 6, Betterman filed an affidavit setting forth several facts, including that he had spent at least 442 days in jail for partner of family member assault and would be eligible for conditional release if he was an inmate with DOC, that he was suffering from the delay, and was not receiving medical attention for physical ailments.…

City of Helena v. Heppner

City of Helena v. Heppner, 2015 MT 15 (Jan. 20, 2015) (Shea, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court properly held that Heppner’s speedy-trial rights were not violated.

Short Answer: No. 375 days from arrest to entry of plea triggers a constitutional speedy-trial analysis. The Court remands with instructions to take evidence and make findings and conclusions.

Reversed and remanded

Facts: Heppner was arrested for DUI on April 29, 2012. He refused to comply with a search warrant for a blood sample. A complaint was filed the next day in justice court charging Heppner with DUI, a misdemeanor, and concealing or tampering with evidence, a felony.

On May 15, 2012, the state charged Heppner with DUI and tampering with evidence.…