Montana Supreme Court Decisions

Seven justices serve on the Montana Supreme Court, which reviews appeals directly from district courts. There is no intermediate appellate court in the state. The Supreme Court also reviews appeals from the workers’ compensation and water courts. It must review any case that is appealed from any of these courts. In other words, it does not have discretion to decide whether to review a case. The Montana Supreme Court also holds original jurisdiction over writs of habeas corpus and cases that have not yet reached the district courts in which the dispute is entirely legal rather than factual. It has a constitutional mandate to oversee the operations of lower courts in the state. The Court must issue each of its decisions in writing, and any justice who dissents from the decision must issue a written dissenting opinion.

Each justice on the Supreme Court serves an eight-year term. A candidate to serve on the Court must be a U.S. citizen who has been a resident of Montana for at least two years. They also must have been admitted to practice law in Montana for at least five years. While they are serving on the Supreme Court, they must continue to reside in Montana. Candidates run in a general non-partisan election, and a justice may run for reelection when their term expires. If no opponent challenges the reelection of a justice, they will need to win a retention election to stay on the Court.

The Governor of Montana may appoint an interim justice if a vacancy arises in the middle of a term. This process starts when the Montana Judicial Nominating Commission provides the Governor with a list of three to five nominees. The Governor has 30 days to choose a nominee from this list, or otherwise the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will make the decision. The Montana Senate must confirm the appointment. The interim justice then must run in the next general election after they have been appointed to stay on the Court.

Browse Opinions From the Montana Supreme Court

Recent Decisions From the Montana Supreme Court
State v. Pham  
Date: October 19, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 270
Docket Number: DA 19-0421

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Defendant's motion to suppress based on its determination that Defendant had not been seized, holding that the district court clearly erred when it concl...

State v. Laster  
Date: October 19, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 269
Docket Number: DA 19-0645

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to suppress illegal drug evidence seized as a result of a protective pat-down search for weapons and i...

State v. Murphy  
Date: October 19, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 268
Docket Number: DA 19-0657

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court convicting Defendant of sexual intercourse without consent, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by permitting admission of evidence rega...

Bye v. Somont Oil
Date: October 19, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 271N
Docket Number: DA 20-0492
Ekalaka v. Ekalaka Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.  
Date: October 19, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 267
Docket Number: DA 20-0594

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying the Ekalaka Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.'s (Department) motion for summary judgment, holding that the district court did not err in finding that the T...

Ku v. G.F. Public Schools
Date: October 19, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 274N
Docket Number: DA 21-0095
Marriage of Waite
Date: October 19, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 272N
Docket Number: DA 21-0103
Ku v. G.F. Public Library
Date: October 19, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 273N
Docket Number: DA 21-0111
State v. Marquez  
Date: October 12, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 263
Docket Number: DA 19-0660

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of felony assault on a peace officer, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it decided not to instruct the ju...

In re F.S.  
Date: October 12, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 262
Docket Number: DA 20-0092

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court involuntarily committing Respondent to the Montana State Hospital, holding that the waiver of Respondent's presence at the initial hearing on the State's peti...

State v. Hren  
Date: October 12, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 264
Docket Number: DA 20-0190

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of felony criminal endangerment, misdemeanor stalking, and felony stalking, holding that the district court did not err. The first trial...

Marriage of Lalicker and Hartkopf
Date: October 12, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 265N
Docket Number: DA 20-0610
State v. A. Weimer
Date: October 12, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 266N
Docket Number: DA 21-0075
State v. Fisher  
Date: October 5, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 255
Docket Number: DA 19-0301

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the district court denying Appellant's motion to dismiss the deliberate homicide case against him, holding that the district court erred when it ordere...

State v. Payne  
Date: October 5, 2021
Citation: 2021 MT 256
Docket Number: DA 19-0371

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of two counts of bail-jumping, one count for each scheduled trial he missed, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his allegations of error. On appeal, De...

The opinions published on Justia State Caselaw are sourced from individual state court sites. These court opinions may not be the official published versions, and you should check your local court rules before citing to them. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site, or the information linked to on the state site.