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 15 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. See the list of scheduled oral arguments below.

All oral arguments are open to the public.  

Click here to see list of previous oral arguments 



DA 21-0260

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. DANIELLE WOOD, Defendant and Appellant.  Oral Argument is set for Monday, April 22, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. in the Strand Union Building, Ballroom A, on the campus of Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, with an introduction to the oral argument beginning at 10:00 a.m.


In March 2019, Danielle Wood was charged with deliberate homicide and accountability for deliberate homicide for the death of Matthew LaFriniere, who was found dead from gunshot wounds near his home’s driveway in May 2018. 

LaFriniere had custody of his and Wood’s child, but he allowed Wood to spend time with the child.  On the evening of LaFriniere’s death, the child was at Wood’s home while Wood hosted a gathering.  Wood received a text from an unknown number that purported to be from LaFriniere and asked her to delay returning the child.  Wood then drove to LaFriniere’s home, returning to her home 30 to 40 minutes later and advising her guests that LaFriniere was not home.  Wood texted LaFriniere’s cellphone and the unknown number, stating that she would await LaFriniere’s call before returning the child.  The following morning, a coworker discovered LaFriniere’s body.

At trial, the State relied on expert testimony regarding the location of Wood’s cellphone and the “TracFone” associated with the unknown number to argue that Wood used the TracFone to provide herself with an alibi and to place a 911 call on the evening of LaFriniere’s death to divert law enforcement to a distant location.  The District Court admitted this evidence over Wood’s objection that the expert was unqualified and his opinions were based on unreliable evidence.

Wood also argued the State should not be allowed to argue accountability.  She alleged the State had presented insufficient evidence of this charge because it never named her alleged accomplice and only argued she had personally killed LaFriniere.  The District Court instructed the jury on the theory of accountability.  The jury convicted Wood of LaFriniere’s homicide.

On appeal, the Montana Supreme Court requested oral argument limited to the issues of whether the District Court properly instructed the jury on accountability and whether it properly admitted evidence of cell-site location information.


DA 23-0225

MONTANA ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION CENTER and SIERRA CLUB, Plaintiffs, Appellees, and Cross-Appellants, v. MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY and NORTHWESTERN CORPORATION, Defendants, Appellants, and Cross-Appellees, and STATE OF MONTANA, by and through the OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Intervenor/Defendant. Oral Argument is set for Wednesday, May 15, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. in courtroom of the Montana Supreme Court, Joseph P. Mazurek Justice Building, Helena, Montana.

Live-streamed through the Court’s website at:

The Montana Environmental Information Center and Sierra Club (Environmental Groups) challenged a permit issued by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to allow Northwestern Corporation to construct a new power plant.  The Environmental Groups alleged that DEQ failed to evaluate the environmental consequences of the power plant as required by the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA).

The District Court determined that DEQ had complied with MEPA on some issues, but had failed to take a “hard look” at lighting and greenhouse gas emissions and corresponding impacts to the climate in Montana.  The court did not reach the Environmental Groups’ argument that a provision of MEPA that prohibits state agencies from reviewing potential climate impacts beyond Montana is unconstitutional.  The court remanded the environmental assessment to DEQ for further analysis and vacated the air quality permit that DEQ had issued.

On appeal, Northwestern argues the court erred because DEQ was not required to analyze the effect of greenhouse gas emissions, and DEQ sufficiently analyzed the lighting issue.  Northwestern further maintains that recent amendments to MEPA has mooted the greenhouse gas issue.  Northwestern and DEQ both argue it was improper for the court to vacate the permit.

The Environmental Groups argue that the court should have concluded that DEQ also failed to adequately evaluate noise impacts and to evaluate greenhouse gas emissions in general.  They argue that if amendments to MEPA no longer allow evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions, then those amendments are unconstitutional.