October 3 2007
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF MONTANA
2007 MT 254N
STATE OF MONTANA,
Plaintiff and Appellee,
LYLE M. BENDER,
Defendant and Appellant.
District Court of the Twelfth Judicial District,
In and For the County of Hill, Cause No. DC 06-057
Honorable David Rice, Presiding Judge
COUNSEL OF RECORD:
Randy H. Randolph, Attorney at Law; Havre, Montana
Honorable Mike McGrath, Attorney General; Jonathan M. Krauss,
Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana
Cyndee L. Peterson, Hill County Attorney; Stephen Gannon, Deputy
County Attorney, Havre, Montana
Submitted on Briefs: August 29, 2007
Decided: October 3, 2007
Chief Justice Karla M. Gray delivered the Opinion of the Court.
Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(d)(v), Montana Supreme Court 1996 Internal
Operating Rules, as amended in 2003, the following memorandum decision shall not be cited
as precedent. It shall be filed as a public document with the Clerk of the Supreme Court and
its case title, Supreme Court cause number and disposition shall be included in this Court’s
quarterly list of noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and Montana Reports.
Lyle M. Bender pled guilty to partner or family member assault in Hill County Justice
Court. The Justice Court later denied Bender’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Bender
appealed to the Twelfth Judicial District Court, Hill County, which also denied his motion to
withdraw his guilty plea. Bender appeals, and we affirm.
On appeal, Bender argues the District Court erred in denying his motion to withdraw
his guilty plea because he did not fully understand his rights or the consequences of pleading
guilty, he did not have the benefit of counsel or a plea agreement before entering his plea,
and he did not admit to a sufficient factual basis to support his plea.
We review a defendant’s motion to withdraw a guilty plea to determine whether the
plea was voluntary—a mixed question of law and fact which we review de novo. State v.
Frazier, 2007 MT 40, ¶ 8, 336 Mont. 81, ¶ 8, 153 P.3d 18, ¶ 8 (citation omittied). A plea is
voluntary when the person entering it is fully aware of its direct consequences. Duffy v.
State, 2005 MT 228, ¶ 12, 328 Mont. 369, ¶ 12, 120 P.3d 398, ¶ 12 (citation omitted). Here,
the record shows that, when Bender entered his plea, the Justice Court advised him of his
constitutional rights, including the right to counsel, and Bender gave no indication that he did
not understand those rights or that his plea was involuntary.
Bender’s claim that he did not admit to a sufficient factual basis to support his plea
goes to the legality of the court’s acceptance of his plea. Section 46-12-212, MCA, requires
a trial court accepting a guilty plea to solicit admissions from the defendant regarding the
acts the defendant committed that constituted the offense charged. In this case, Bender
admitted dragging his wife across the carpet by her legs. That admission established acts
sufficient to constitute partner or family member assault. See § 45-5-206(1)(a) and (c),
We have determined to decide this case pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(d) of our
1996 Internal Operating Rules, as amended in 2003, which provides for memorandum
opinions. It is manifest on the face of the briefs and the record that this appeal is without
merit because the issues are clearly controlled by settled Montana law. The District Court
did not err in denying Bender’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea.
/S/ KARLA M. GRAY
/S/ PATRICIA COTTER
/S/ W. WILLIAM LEAPHART
/S/ BRIAN MORRIS
/S/ JIM RICE