District Court Council - Montana Courts
Judicial Branch

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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 

2016


 

DECEMBER

--DA 14-0445  STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. JASMINE NICOLE ESKEW, Defendant and Appellant.    Oral Argument is set for Wednesday, December 7, 2016, at 9:30 a.m. in the Courtroom of the Montana Supreme Court, Joseph P. Mazurek Justice Building, Helena, Montana.

Jasmine Eskew’s 6-month-old daughter was taken to a hospital emergency room for treatment of head trauma that was originally diagnosed as the result of being shaken. Police questioned Eskew at length, and Eskew confessed to shaking her daughter roughly in an attempt to stop her from crying. The little girl later died as a result of her injuries.

Eskew was charged with deliberate homicide. At trial, the defense theory was that it was a man Eskew had been dating, not Eskew, who caused the little girl’s head injuries--an autopsy had revealed that the little girl had died of blunt force trauma to the head. A jury found Eskew not guilty of deliberate homicide but guilty of the lesser included offense of assault on a minor.

Eskew appeals her conviction on three grounds: (1) that officers’ downplaying of the Miranda warning rendered involuntary her waiver of her right to remain silent; (2) that the totality of the interrogation circumstances rendered her confession involuntary; and (3) that the District Court abused its discretion when it refused to allow testimony by her expert witness on false confessions. Eskew maintains she is entitled to a new trial on these grounds.