State v. Montgomery

State v. Montgomery, 2015 MT 151 (June 2, 2015) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Montgomery’s felonies because he was charged by information rather than indicted by a grand jury.

Short Answer: No.


Facts: In 2006, Montgomery was charged with felony counts of sexual assault and sexual abuse involving four alleged child victims. He eventually pled guilty to two counts of sexual assault, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended for each felony, to run consecutively. In addition, his probation in a 2003 case was revoked and he was sentenced to an additional consecutive 20-year sentence.

Procedural Posture & Holding: In October 2014, Montgomery moved to vacate his conviction and dismiss the charges, arguing the district court lacked jurisdiction because the charges were not brought via a grand jury. The district court denied the motion, and Montgomery appeals. The Supreme Court affirms.

Reasoning: The Fifth Amendment’s grand jury requirement does not apply to the states. Montana statutes allow for grand juries, but they are not the primary method used to commence a prosecution. The state prosecuted Montgomery in accordance with Montana law, and the district court had subject matter jurisdiction. Montgomery was not entitled to indictment by a grand jury.