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Montana Laws

The following is a collection of links to free sources of legal information on the Web. Not all laws are available for free online. The law library has many additional resources in print. If you cannot find what you are looking for, please Call or email us.

Constitutional and Statehood Resources
Constitution, Constitutional Convention Proceedings, Enabling Act, etc.

Legislative Branch Resources
Statutes, Bills, etc.

Executive Branch Resources
Administrative Rules, Attorney General Opinions, etc.

Judicial Branch/Court Resources
Supreme Court Opinions, Court Rules, etc.


Constitutional and Statehood Resources

The Territory of Montana was established on May 26, 1864, when the United States Congress passed the Organic Act. The first constitution of Montana was written in 1866. It was lost on the way to the printers and was never voted on by the citizens of Montana. A second constitution was written and ratified by the people in 1884. However, Congress failed to take any action on Montana's admission to the Union at that time for political reasons. Five years later, Congress passed the Enabling Act, which finally permitted the people of Montana to be admitted to the Union upon the adoption and ratification of a new state constitution. A third constitution was written and ratified by the people later that year. On November 8, 1889, Montana was the 41st state admitted to the Union by a Presidential Proclamation of Benjamin Harrison. The 1889 Constitution survived until 1972, when a new constitutional convention was held. The 1972 Constitution was adopted by the 100 delegates to the Constitutional Convention on March 22, 1972, and was ratified by the citizens of Montana on June 6, 1972, through Referendum No. 68.

Current Montana Constitution
From the online version of the Montana Code Annotated.

Montana Constitution as passed in 1972
From the Constitutional Convention Proceedings, Vol. II, p. 1087-1113.

Montana Constitutional Convention proceedings, 1971-1972
Volumes I and II include information on delegates, Convention Rules, and Delegate and Committee Proposals. Volumes III through VII include a full transcript of the convention. An Index is also provided.

Montana Constitutional Convention Proceedings, 1889:
The Constitutional Convention Proceedings are too delicate to be scanned. They are available in print from the Law Library. Call or email us for more information.

Organic Act
The Act passed by the United States Congress that created the Territory of Montana. The Organic Act, 13 Stat. 85, Chap. 95, was passed on May 26, 1864.  

Enabling Act
The Act passed by the United States Congress that permitted the people of the Montana Territory to be admitted to the Union upon the adoption and ratification of a new state constitution. The Enabling Act, 25 Stat. 676, was passed on February 22, 1889.  

President Benjamin Harrison's Statehood Proclamation
The document in which the President acknowledged that the citizens of Montana met all of the requirements set in the Enabling Act and that completed admission of the State of Montana into the Union. The Proclamation, 26 Stat. 1551, Proc. No. 7, was signed on November 8, 1889.

Legislative Branch Resources

The legislature is the branch of government that is generally responsible for making the laws of the state by introducing bills and enacting statutes on various topics. In Montana, the legislature meets every 2 years (on odd years) for 90 days from January until April to pass new laws, amend the laws in place, and determine the state's budget for the next two-year cycle (called a biennium). The official website of the Montana legislature is www.leg.mt.gov.

In addition to the laws passed by the legislature, Montana law provides that any individual or group may petition to 1) enact a law by initiative, 2) approve or reject an act of the state legislature by referendum, or 3) amend the state constitution. You can find additional information on ballot measures on the Secretary of State's website and the Legislature's website.

Current Montana Code Annotated (M.C.A., Mont. Code Ann.)
Collection of laws or statutes passed by the state legislature, arranged by topic. The Montana Code Annotated is reprinted every 2 years (on odd years) after the legislature meets to incorporate changes to the laws made during the session.

Older versions of Montana Code Annotated (M.C.A., Mont. Code Ann.)
The 1995-present versions are available online for free. Prior versions are available at the law library in print.

From 1947 until 1978, the laws of Montana were compiled in a book called the Revised Code of Montana (R.C.M.). The R.C.M. is not available online, but it is available at the law library. Call or email us for more information.

Bill information/Montana Legislature's Website
Information on all bills introduced by members of the state legislature from 1997-present, including the text of various versions of bills, information on upcoming hearings on bills, minutes of legislative committee hearings on bills, and audio files of selected hearings (2005 session only)

Legislative Minutes and Exhibits

CHAPTER Number to BILL Number

Code Section Conversion Tables

How to Compile a Montana Legislative History Research Guide
Written by staff of the State Law Library of Montana. Provides step-by-step instructions on compiling a Montana legislative history. (Last updated January 2006).

Executive Branch Resources

The executive branch is the branch of government that is generally in charge of implementing and enforcing the laws passed by the state legislature. The executive branch is made up of various administrative agencies, each with a different area of specialization, and the Governor and his or her Cabinet. The executive branch "fleshes out" the statutes by creating highly detailed, specific rules and regulations that tell people how to comply with the law. Many administrative agencies also have the ability to determine whether citizens are complying with their rules and regulations. They can issue and revoke licenses and fine citizens who do not comply with the law. The official website of the executive branch is mt.gov. To find a list of individual state agency websites, go to mt.gov/govt/agencylisting.mcpx.

Administrative Rules of Montana (A.R.M., Admin. R. Mont.)
Collection of rules made by state agencies, arranged by executive department. Online version is updated on September 30th of each year. To determine whether a rule has been amended since then, check the Montana Administrative Register.

Montana Administrative Register (M.A.R., Mont. Admin. Reg.)
The Montana Administrative Register is published every two weeks and contains notices of proposed administrative rules and notices of final rules and amendments to rules created by various state agencies. Also contains Attorney General opinions. Online version contains rules published from 2001-present.

Executive Orders
An Executive Order is a legally binding action or statement by the Governor as the Chief Executive of the State of Montana.

For Executive Orders from the administration of former Governor Steve Bullock, 2013-, click here.

For Executive Orders from the administration of former Governor Brian Schweitzer, 2005-2012, click here.

For Executive Orders from the administration of former Governor Judy Martz, 2000-2004, click here.

For Executive Orders from the administration of former Governor Marc Racicot, 2000 only, click here.

For Executive Orders issued before 2000, contact the State Law Library.

Attorney General Opinions
The legislature or either house of the legislature, a state officer, a state board, a state commission, a county attorney, a board of county commissioners, or a city attorney may request the Attorney General to give a written opinion about any legal question related to official duties. The Attorney General does not issue decisions at the request of private citizens.

Attorney General Letters of Advice
In response to a request for a formal Opinion, the Attorney General may decide to issue a Letter of Advice instead. A Letter of Advice does not have the force of law and is advisory only. This site provides copies of Letters of Advice dating back to 2002.

Board of Oil and Gas Conservation
Provides access to decisions issued between 2000-2005. Browse by date.

Decisions of the Commissioner of Political Practices
The Commissioner investigates complaints regarding campaign finance practices, lobbying disclosures, and ethical violations by legislators, public officers, and state employees. This site provides copies of decisions dating back to 2000.

Department of Labor Hearings Bureau
Provides access to decisions on Wage and Hour, Collective Bargaining, and Workers' Compensations cases since 2001.

Human Rights Commission/Human Rights Bureau Decisions
The Human Rights Bureau investigates complaints of discrimination and issues decisions in these cases. The Human Rights Commission hears appeals of decisions of the Bureau. This site provides copies of decisions from both agencies dating back to 1996, in alphabetical order.

State Tax Appeal Board Decisions
The State Tax Appeal Board hears appeals from decisions of the Department of Revenue regarding business licenses, property assessments, taxes and penalties and decisions of the county tax appeal boards. This site provides copies of decisions of the Board dating back to 1996, arranged by topic.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Decisions
The Superintendent of Public Instruction hears appeals from decisions Of county superintendents (except teacher termination cases) and decisions of county transportation committees. This site provides copies of decisions of the Superintendent dating back to 1999.

Workers’ Compensation Court Decisions
The Workers' Compensation Court decides cases involving workers’ compensation and occupational disease claims, among others. This site provides copies of decisions of the Court dating back to 1993, sorted by case number, year, and name.

Links to Montana Administrative Agency Websites

Judicial Branch/Court Resources

The Montana Court system or the Judicial Branch is the branch of state government generally in charge of applying the law to the facts of specific cases in order to decide disputes between citizens and disagreements between citizens and the government. The Montana Courts also are responsible for determining whether the statutes passed by the legislature and the rules created by the executive branch meet the requirements of the Montana Constitution and the United States Constitution. The court system includes both trial courts (District Courts, Justice Courts, City Courts, Municipal Courts, Workers' Compensation Courts, Water Courts), which hear evidence and decide the facts of a case, and the Montana Supreme Court, which decides appeals of trial court decisions on legal questions. The decisions of the Montana Supreme Court are published and are widely available; however, trial court decisions are not generally published and usually must be obtained from the Clerk of Court for the county where the case was filed and tried. The official website of the Montana Court system is courts.mt.gov.

Montana Court Opinions
A brief is a written argument submitted by a party to an appeal that explains why that party should win. An opinion is a written statement that explains the reasons for the Court's decision in a case. Not all cases are decided by a written opinion, and not all opinions are published decisions of the Court that can be relied upon in other cases. The State Law Library scans and posts all Montana Supreme Court opinions and the briefs that were submitted for those cases. This site provides copies of opinions and briefs dating back to the 1980s.

Workers' Compensation Court Decisions
The Workers' Compensation Court decides cases involving workers' compensation and occupational disease claims, among others. This site provides copies of decisions of the Court dating back to 1993, sorted by case number, year, and name.


Montana Court Rules

Court rules explain the procedure to be followed in various courts, including what format paperwork should be submitted in, how to schedule hearings, and how hearings and trials will proceed. A court may be governed by several different sets of rules. Choose the appropriate court below to find links to the rules that apply in that particular court.

Supreme Court
District Court
Justice Court
City Court
Municipal Court
Workers' Compensation Court
Water Court
Rules Regarding the Practice of Law
Rules Regarding Judicial Conduct
Miscellaneous Rules

Montana Supreme Court Rules

Montana Rules of Appellate Procedure (M.R.A.P., Mont. R. App. Proc.)
Explains the process that the parties must follow in appeals and original proceedings in the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Order about How to Cite to Montana Supreme Court cases

Supreme Court Internal Operating Rules

Explains the process that the Supreme Court follows when deciding cases before it.


District Court Rules

Statutes on District Court jurisdiction
Describes the kinds of cases that District Courts can decide

Montana Rules of Civil Procedure (M.R.C.P., Mont. R. Civ. Pro.)
Explains the general process to be followed by the parties in civil (not criminal) cases in Montana.

Additional Statutes affecting general Civil Procedure not found in Montana Rules of Civil Procedure. (M.C.A., Title 25, Chapters 1-15)

Statutes about Criminal Procedure (also known as Montana Rules of Criminal Procedure) Explains the general process to be followed by parties in criminal cases.

Uniform District Court Rules
More specific rules about formatting paperwork and appearing in Montana District Courts. Supplements the rules of civil and criminal Procedure.

Local Rules for Various District Courts
Provides links to the Local Rules that apply in different district courts; Local Rules supplement the Uniform District Court Rules and the rules of civil and criminal procedure.

Procedure in the Small Claims Court of Justice Court
Explains the process to be followed by the parties in small claims cases in Justice Courts and in District Courts.

Montana Rules of Evidence
Explains what evidence (witness testimony, documents, etc.) can be admitted in court.

Rules for Appeal to District Court from Justice and City Courts
Explains how to appeal a Justice or City Court decision to District Court.

Uniform Municipal Court Rules of Appeal to District Court
Explains how to appeal a Municipal Court decision to District Court.


Justice Court Rules

Statutes on Justice Court jurisdiction
Explains the kinds of cases that Justice Courts can decide.

Montana Justice and City Court Rules of Civil Procedure
Explains the general process to be followed by the parties in civil (not criminal) cases in Justice and City Courts. For small claims cases, see the Rules of Procedure in the Small Claims Division below.

Rules of Criminal Procedure that Apply in Justice Courts
Parts 1-3 of this Chapter explain the general process to be followed by the parties in criminal cases in Justice Courts  

Uniform Rules for Justice and City Courts
More specific rules about formatting paperwork and appearing in Justice and City Courts. Supplements the rules of civil and criminal procedure.

Procedure in the Small Claims Division of Justice Court
Explains the process to be followed by the parties in small claims cases in Justice Courts and in District Courts.

Rules for Appeal to District Court from Justices' and City Courts
Explains the process to be followed when appealing a Justice or City Court decision to a District Court.


City Court Rules

Statutes on City Court jurisdiction
Describes the kinds of cases that City Courts can decide.

Montana Justice and City Court Rules of Civil Procedure
Explains the general process to be followed by the parties in civil (not criminal) cases in Justice and City Courts.

Rules of Criminal Procedure that Apply in City Court
Parts 1-3 of this Chapter explain the general process to be followed by the parties in criminal cases in City Courts

Uniform Rules for Justice and City Courts
More specific rules about formatting paperwork and appearing in Justice and City Courts. Supplements the rules of civil and criminal procedure.


Municipal Court Rules

Statute on Municipal Court jurisdiction
Describes the kinds of cases that Municipal Courts can decide.

Procedure in Municipal Courts
Explains general procedures to be followed in cases in Municipal Court. Provides links to selected District Court Rules and Justice Court Rules that apply in Municipal Courts unless they are in conflict with this Chapter.

Rules of Criminal Procedure that Apply in Municipal Courts
Part 4 of this Chapter explains the general process to be followed by the parties in criminal cases in Municipal Courts

Uniform Municipal Court Rules of Appeal to District Court
Explains how to appeal a case from Municipal Court to District Court.


Workers' Compensation Court Rules

Description of Workers' Compensation Court
Describes the types of cases and issues that the Workers' Compensation Court can decide.

Montana Administrative Procedure Act
Explains generally the type of hearing and procedure that is required in an administrative hearing, including a hearing before the Workers' Compensation Court.

Workers' Compensation Court Rules
Explains the procedures that the parties must follow in Workers' Compensation Court cases.

Montana Rules of Evidence
Explains what evidence (witness testimony, documents, etc.) can be admitted in court.

 


Water Court Rules

Statutes on Water Court jurisdiction
Describe the types of cases that the Water Courts can decide.

Water Right Claim Examination Rules
Explains the general procedures to be followed by the parties in Water Court cases.

Water Right Claim Adjudication Rules
Describe the procedures and process to be followed in the Montana Water Court.

Montana Rules of Civil Procedure (M.R.C.P., Mont. R. Civ. Pro.)
Explains the general process to be followed by the parties in civil (not criminal) cases in Montana. They apply in Water Court unless they are in conflict with the Water Right Claim Examination Rules.

Uniform District Court Rules
More specific rules about formatting paperwork and appearing in court. Supplements the rules of civil and criminal procedure. They apply in Water Court unless they are in conflict with the Water Claim Examination Rules.

Montana Rules of Evidence
Explains what evidence (witness testimony, documents, etc.) can be admitted in court. They apply in Water Court unless they are in conflict with the Water Right Claim Examination Rules.


Rules on Practicing Law in the State of Montana

Rules of Professional Conduct
The ethical guidelines that lawyers must follow when dealing with clients, courts, the public, and other lawyers.

Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement
Explain the process for handling complaints about lawyers and for disciplining lawyers.

Rules for Admission to the Bar
Explains how to become a lawyer in Montana.

Pro Hac Vice Rules
Explain the process that lawyers from other states must follow in order to be permitted to practice in Montana for a particular case.


Rules on Judicial Conduct and Standards

Code of Judicial Conduct
The ethical guidelines that judges must follow when dealing with lawyers, litigants, the public, and other members of the court.

Rules of the Judicial Standards Commission
Explain the process for handling complaints about judges and for disciplining judges.


Miscellaneous Rules

Montana Medical Legal Panel
Rules of Procedure