Legal News

April 22

Flathead County may remove time limits on political signs
Flathead County commissioners are considering eliminating time constraints on the posting of political signs on private property.

Dark-money complaint against Great Falls GOP senator dismissed
The commissioner of political practices has dismissed a complaint accusing a Republican senator from Great Falls of coordinating his 2010 campaign with a secretive conservative group.

Air Force: Russians inspected Malmstrom's demolished missile facilities
Russian inspectors visited Malmstrom Air Force Base earlier this month to verify that nuclear missile silos had been eliminated in accordance with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

ExpoPark investigation turned over to Montana AG
The Montana Attorney General’s Office is now involved in the financial investigation at Cascade County-owned Montana ExpoPark.

Man pleads guilty to helping embezzle federal aid
A man has pleaded guilty to helping a former state legislator embezzle federal money meant for the Chippewa Cree tribe.

Montana uses federal grant to buy grizzly habitat in Teton County
The Montana Land Board on Monday approved a $345,000 purchase of 320 acres of threatened grizzly bear habitat to add to the Blackleaf Wildlife Management Area in Teton County.

Company seeks to strike state cap on jury awards
A Butte-based office supply company is asking the Montana Supreme Court to uphold a lower judge’s ruling that the state’s cap on punitive damage awards is unconstitutional.

Ursulines ask to bring diocese back to state court
An order of nuns being sued for child sex abuse wants to bring the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena back into state court.

N.D. oil companies fight plan to slow production
North Dakota oil companies don't like a proposal that would have the industry cut back on oil production to control the amount of natural gas that's being wasted.


April 18

Missoula Democrats: Give sexual assault cases priority over lawsuits
The Missoula Democratic Central Committee adopted a resolution this month calling on the Missoula County attorney and Board of County Commissioners to “realign their financial resources to create meaningful improvements in addressing sexual assault cases.”

Watchdog criticizes Bullock's 5M acre forest restoration request
A Missoula forestry watchdog has accused Gov. Steve Bullock of cutting the public out of the process when nominating roughly 5 million timbered acres for priority attention, while those involved in the governor’s decision say the critic is off-base.

Ravalli County spends $70K investigating embattled treasurer
Following the advice of the county attorney, Ravalli County commissioners made no moves Thursday to change the status of the county’s embattled interim treasurer, Valerie Stamey.

Nonmotorized transportation district under consideration
The Helena City Commission is considering the creation of a citywide district aimed at helping to improve travel for those who don’t drive motorized vehicles on city streets.

Lindeen meets with Obama to discuss ACA
Meeting with President Barack Obama on Thursday, state Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen said she discussed Montana’s collaborative effort to enroll people into health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act before last month’s deadline.

Stillwater Mining production up, but VP resigns
Montana's largest mining company says its precious metals production rose modestly while recycled metal volumes dropped sharply in the first quarter of 2014.

Sexual assault nurse examiners at Billings Clinic help cement Griego's conviction
Three of the women Toby Eugene Griego raped and assaulted last year were assessed by nurses at Billings Clinic who are specially trained in examining sexual assault victims and collecting evidence, including some of the graphic, telltale photographs used at trial.

Officer in Monday shooting also shot, killed man in 2013
Billings Police Chief Rich St. John has identified the officer involved in a fatal shooting Monday as the same officer who shot and killed a man in February 2013.

NorthWestern says Consumer Counsel changes would nix $900M dam deal
NorthWestern Energy would have to walk away from a $900 million deal to buy 11 hydroelectric dams in Montana if forced to make changes recommended by the state Consumer Counsel, an executive for the South Dakota-based utility said Thursday.

Bullock's Bakken aid proposal needs approval from Legislature
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has a $45-million plan to help communities overwhelmed by the oil boom, but it will take significant buy-in from legislators who rejected a similar plan in 2013.

‘Communication breakdown’: Everyone played part in EK Days dispute that got ugly
The long-running clash of angry words and hurt feelings over Evel Knievel Days is rooted in a breakdown of communication — on all fronts.

Montana Supreme Court rejects attempt to alter initiative wording
The Montana Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an attempt by opponents of Medicaid expansion and Attorney General Tim Fox to rewrite the language of a proposed ballot initiative and void all the signed petitions that backers have gathered to date.


April 17

Sex trafficking easy to find in Montana, speakers at UM say
Melissa Farley hadn’t been in Montana for more than a day, but she’d already done her homework, dropping into a Missoula strip club to observe the “house moms,” and browsing the Internet to see what turned up on the local market.

Business leaders to discuss difficult issue of faith at work in Missoula
Religion in the workplace is a tricky subject at best, and David Bell is well aware of that.

OSHA to cite Missoula roofing company after worker's death
A Missoula contractor may face a federal citation for failing to report in a timely manner a roofing accident that killed a Bonner man.

Bullock to unveil $45 million Bakken communities aid package
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is expected to announce a $45 million aid package for Eastern Montana communities overwhelmed by the Bakken oil boom.

Montana AG: State, federal agencies step up efforts to fight human trafficking
Two years ago, the owners of a Montana spa were arrested for prostituting their Asian employees and holding them in total lockdown.

Jury: Officer justified in shooting fugitive
A coroner’s jury has ruled a Yellowstone County Sheriff’s lieutenant was justified in the fatal shooting of an armed fugitive.

Hung jury in trial for bartender charged with over-serving
A Helena jury was unable to reach a verdict Wednesday in the case of a bartender charged with serving alcohol to an intoxicated woman who later killed two people in a drunken-driving crash.

Mining company meets with Smith River outfitters on its exploration plans
The company exploring near the headwaters of the Smith River for a potential copper mine met with river outfitters in Helena on Wednesday.

Job-seekers stream into Hardin prison
Doyle Jones brought 200 blank applications for job-seekers at the Two Rivers Detention Facility.

ASMSU staff shake-up sparks talk of impeachment
A surprise shake-up of the staff that works for Montana State University's student government has led to an uproar and calls by some students to impeach outgoing student President Lindsay Murdock.


April 16

Judge hears arguments over 2011 Montana marijuana law
The medical marijuana industry continues its efforts to overturn restrictions in a 2011 law that sought to rein in the number of providers and users.

Jury deliberating in Helena bartender trial
A jury deliberated for more than two hours without coming to a verdict Tuesday in the trial of a Helena bartender accused of overserving alcohol to a woman who later killed two people in a drunk driving crash.

AG Fox agrees that Medicaid initiative’s fiscal note is flawed; asks Court to order it redone
Attorney General Tim Fox has told the state Supreme Court that part of a voter-initiative petition to expand Medicaid in Montana is legally flawed, and should be rewritten to conform with the law.

New special hunting permit fees: Pay less now, more later
Hunters applying for special permits for moose, mountain goat, sheep and bison will see a new fee structure for the coveted special permits. The new fees will drastically lower the temporary cost of applying for the tags, but increase out-of-pocket expenses.

Critics decry lack of public input on forest proposal
Critics of Gov. Steve Bullock’s recent nomination of 5.1 million acres of U.S. Forest Service land as priority for “restoration” say the public was left out of the process.

Unarmed robbery suspect shot, killed by officer in Billings
A Montana police officer shot and killed a man being sought in a recent robbery after authorities say the suspect made a sudden movement while in the back of a car that had been pulled over, authorities said Tuesday.

Arrest warrant for charged escape accomplice
A $100,000 arrest warrant has been issued for a 29-year-old man that prosecutors say drove a suspect in an assault and attempted rape to Missoula after he escaped Bozeman police custody.

Groups claim traffic study doesn't address wildlife collisions
A Highway 89 traffic study suggests changes to improve driver safety, but some groups want those safety concerns to extend to the wildlife in the Paradise Valley.

Montana Supreme Court: Fighting Words from Car Grounds for Ticket
Using ethnic slurs and other "fighting words" to harass people is not Constitutionally-protected speech, even if directed from inside a vehicle at a pedestrian where the possibility of a physical altercation is minimal, the Montana Supreme Court said Tuesday.


April 15

No charges filed in fatal Mount Jumbo avalanche
No criminal charges will be filed against anyone connected with triggering a fatal avalanche off the west face of Mount Jumbo on Feb. 28.

Missoula County commissioner: Time for new county attorney
Missoula Mayor John Engen called on state legislators to give cities the opportunity to raise money without burdening property taxpayers.

'Uncontrolled reservoir': Spring flooding chances are better than normal
Record mountain snowpack in Montana — described by one official as an “uncontrolled reservoir” waiting to be released — is raising concerns about spring flooding.

Browning charges tribe trying to take over water, sewer
The town of Browning has filed a complaint in U.S. District Court alleging the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council (BTBC) is attempting to illegally take over the town’s water, sewer and garbage disposal utility infrastructure.

Wolf Point to redraw districts for school board
Wolf Point school district has agreed to redraw its voting areas for board elections after an ACLU lawsuit argued the district favored white voters in the predominantly Native American area.

Boulder newspaper drops open meetings lawsuit
The Boulder Monitor recently dropped a lawsuit against the Jefferson High School Board of Trustees after nearly two years of tense litigation and four months after the Montana Supreme Court decision went against the newspaper.

Attorneys weigh in on proposed judge substitution rule change
A petition filed by an association of state judges is seeking to make it more difficult for parties in criminal and civil cases to ask for a new judge.


April 14

Mayor wants Roseburg lumber mill annexed into Missoula
The city of Missoula is asking Roseburg Forest Products to annex into the city limits – and Mayor John Engen estimates the company would save money doing so.

Bison meeting cancelled; statewide conservation plan timing uncertain
The prospects for a state-wide bison conservation plan in Montana are uncertain after wildlife officials cancelled a public forum on the issue.

Increasing drug trade, violence mar positive effects of Bakken boom
The blood-drenched man had survived a brutal attack: Beaten with brass knuckles, shocked with a stun gun, slashed with a razor blade, then dumped 40 miles away in Montana, he staggered to a farmhouse for help. His path eventually led authorities back to a quiet backyard in this oil boom town.

Cougar estimates criticized by NW Montana hunters
Mountain lion hunters in northwestern Montana say state Fish, Wildlife and Parks estimates of the lion population in the Bitterrott Valley are too high.

A nation divided: Blackfeet pin future hopes on election; factions demand, reject BIA oversight
There was a time when the Blackfeet people believed the divide within their tribal government would be resolved within a reasonable amount of time. A few more days, a couple of weeks, perhaps a month or two and the opposing factions would find — or be pressured into — enough middle ground to reach a workable agreement.

Missoula police cite coal train protesters for disorderly conduct
Seven people were cited for disorderly conduct for protesting a Montana Rail Link coal train passing through Missoula on Sunday.

High court hears dispute over growth policies
The Montana Supreme Court convened at the University of Montana on Friday to settle a dispute between Whitefish and Flathead County over growth policies in areas surrounding the city.

Wyoming wants Montana's water lawsuit dismissed
The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office is seeking dismissal of an interstate water rights lawsuit pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing the state shouldn’t be held liable for what its attorneys call a “trickle” of water at the heart of the cross-border dispute.

Pipeline leaks production fluid in western N.D.
About 560 barrels of production fluid have leaked from a pipeline into a drainage system in Billings County in western North Dakota.


April 11

Newlywed appeals 30-year sentence for husband's murder
The Kalispell bride who pleaded guilty to pushing her husband off a cliff in Glacier National Park eight days after their marriage filed a last-minute appeal of her 30-year, no-parole federal prison sentence.

Judge's report: No evidence of crimes by Ravalli County treasurer
Retired District Judge Nels Swandal said there were problems in the Ravalli County treasurer’s office, but his just-released eight-page investigative report found nothing criminal.

UM to get Baucus' congressional files, remaining $850K in campaign funds
As former Sen. Max Baucus settles into his post as ambassador to China, the papers documenting his tenure in Congress – along with $850,000 in campaign funds – will go to the University of Montana’s growing collection of congressional records.

Fish, Wildlife Commission OKs brucellosis elk plan despite sportsman concerns
A controversial proposal that could allow some Paradise Valley ranchers to fence out and kill elk in the spring in an attempt to fight disease transmission from elk to cattle was approved by the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission in a 3-2 vote Thursday, despite opposition from sportsmen.

11 Senate Democrats to Obama: Approve Keystone XL
Eleven Senate Democrats, including six who face contested races this year, urged President Barack Obama on Thursday to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline by the end of May.

Suit puts mine’s future in question
The future of the Golden Sunlight Mine near Whitehall could be in jeopardy after an environmental group filed a lawsuit over the mine’s operating permit.

State Parks and Recreation Board forging a new path
For a few hours Wednesday afternoon, the Montana State Parks and Recreation Board and the Fish and Wildlife Commission joined forces to stamp out their new roles.

Louisiana corrections firm says it will operate treatment center in Hardin jail
A Louisiana corrections company plans a job fair April 16 at the Two Rivers Detention Facility in Hardin in an effort to find up to 115 employees to operate a therapeutic treatment center for Bureau of Indian Affairs inmates, beginning as early as May 15.

Yellowstone considers new bison quarantine
Yellowstone National Park is taking the lead on two potential changes to bison management in the greater Yellowstone area.