Cross v. VanDykeAnnotate this Case
In 2014, Lawrence J.C. VanDyke filed his declaration of nomination as a candidate for election to the Montana Supreme Court. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a complaint in the district court seeking to have VanDyke’s candidacy invalidated on the basis that VanDyke was not admitted to the practice of law in Montana for at least five years prior to the date of election as required by the Montana Constitution. The district court ruled that VanDyke did not meet the minimum eligibility requirements because, although VanDyke was a member of the State Bar of Montana continuously from 2005 to the present day, when VanDyke elected to assume inactive status from 2007 until 2012, he was not authorized or qualified to practice law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that VanDyke’s admission to the practice of law in Montana in 2005 satisfied the Constitution’s requirement that a candidate for Supreme Court Justice be “admitted to the practice of law in Montana for at least five years prior to the date of appointment or election,” notwithstanding VanDyke’s choice to take inactive status for some of those years.