Oral Argument Schedule


The majority of cases before the Montana Supreme Court are decided based upon the written briefs submitted by the parties. However, the Court may decide that a case requires further discussion, in addition to what the parties have argued in their written briefs. In such cases, oral arguments are scheduled in open session before the Court. Approximately 30 cases a year are scheduled for oral argument.

Oral arguments are tightly structured and timed. The counsel for each party is allowed limited time to make an argument. The times typically range from 20 to 40 minutes and are set forth by the Court in the order setting oral argument. 

While this format allows the counsel brief opportunity to further develop their arguments, it also gives the Court an opportunity to ask questions of the attorneys on points which the Court needs clarification.

A majority of oral arguments take place in the Montana Supreme Court Courtroom, located at 215 N. Sanders, Helena, Montana. The Court does schedule a few arguments to be heard in different cities around the State.

All of the oral arguments are open to the public.

Click here to see list of previous oral arguments 


2018

JANUARY

--OP 17-0677 SHANNON LEIGH SWEENEY, Petitioner, v. MONTANA THIRD JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, HONORABLE RAY J. DAYTON, District Judge, Respondent.     Oral Argument  is set for Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. in the Courtroom of the Montana Supreme Court, Joseph P. Mazurek Justice Building, Helena, Montana.

Shannon Sweeney was the court-appointed attorney for a man charged with possession of dangerous drugs. After Sweeney’s client failed to appear at a final pretrial conference, the State of Montana additionally charged him with bail-jumping. In connection with the bail-jumping charge, the Third Judicial District Court has ordered Sweeney to testify on the State’s behalf about her communication with her former client concerning the pretrial conference. Sweeney asks the Montana Supreme Court to direct the District Court not to require her to testify, on grounds that attorney-client privilege bars her from doing so.

The Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Sweeney’s position.

FEBRUARY

-- DA 17-0131 DUANE C. KOHOUTEK, INC., a Montana corporation, BUCHER SALES, LLC, a Montana Limited Liability Company, NOBLES, INC., a Montana corporation, and SPIRITS PLUS, LLC, a Montana Limited Liability Company, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs and Appellees, v. STATE OF MONTANA, DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, Defendant and Appellant. .     Oral Argument  is set for Wednesday, February 7, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. in the Courtroom of the Montana Supreme Court, Joseph P. Mazurek Justice Building, Helena, Montana.

Kohoutek and other owners of Montana liquor stores (the Class) brought this action against the State of Montana to challenge the constitutionality of a statute (repealed in 2015) regarding case-lot discounts for the purchase of liquor from the State. The Eighth Judicial District Court ruled that the statute violated Class members’ right to equal protection and that the Class is entitled to $26,156,411.65 in damages from the State, plus $8,718,803.88 in attorney fees, litigation expenses, and class representative incentive awards payable from the judgment; plus judgment interest and costs.

On behalf of the State, Appellant Montana Department of Revenue raises several issues on appeal. It argues the District Court erred when it: (1) ruled that the weighted average discount ratio (WADR) found at § 16-2-101(2)(b)(ii)(B), MCA (2013), failed rational basis review under the constitutional right to equal protection, and by applying a change in circumstances test to render the WADR unconstitutional; (2) denied the State’s motion to amend its answer to include a statute of limitations defense; (3) ruled that the doctrine of laches did not bar the Class’s claims for monetary damages; (4) awarded damages (including interest) to the Class and calculated those damages; and (5) ruled that the Class is entitled to attorney fees under the private attorney general doctrine.

On cross-appeal, the Class argues that the District Court erred in relying on the statute, after having found it invalid, to set storeowner expectations in the takings claim.

--DA 17-0184  CITY OF MISSOULA, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. MARCY JANE KROSCHEL, Defendant and Appellant.   Oral Argument  is set for Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. in the Courtroom of the Montana Supreme Court, Joseph P. Mazurek Justice Building, Helena, Montana.

In this appeal, Marcy J. Kroschel argues University of Montana police officers violated her constitutional rights when they detained and questioned her on suspicion of being a minor in possession of alcohol (MIP) at a University of Montana football game. The Missoula Municipal Court denied Kroschel’s motion to suppress her answers to the officers’ questions after she initially provided a false name and date of birth, ruling that, under the circumstances presented here, the officers made a lawful investigative stop and did not violate constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures by governmental officials. The Fourth Judicial District Court agreed with that ruling.

APRIL

-- DA 17-0492  

-- OP 17-0678  

Tipton asks the Court to direct the Thirteenth Judicial District Court to dismiss a prosecution against him for a 1987 rape of a then-8-year-old Billings girl.Another individual was convicted of the rape long ago but was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2002.In 2014, the DNA evidence was found to link Tipton to the crime.Tipton was charged in 2015.

In 1987, the statute of limitations for sexual intercourse without consent was 5 years.In 1989 the statute of limitations was amended to 5 years or 5 years after the victim turns 18.In 2007, the statute was again amended, to provide that, if a suspect is conclusively identified by DNA testing after the statute of limitations has expired, a prosecution may be commenced within one year after the DNA identification.

In response to Tipton’s motion to dismiss the charges against him, the District Court ruled that the legislature intended the 2007 statute to apply retroactively. Tipton argues that retroactive application violates the ex post facto provisions of the Montana and United States Constitutions.