District Court Council - Montana Courts
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Oral Argument Schedule

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 30 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.

All of the oral arguments are open to the public.

Click here to see list of previous oral arguments 

2018


 

JANUARY

--OP 17-0677    SHANNON LEIGH SWEENEY, Petitioner, v. MONTANA THIRD JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, HONORABLE RAY J. DAYTON, District Judge, Respondent.     Oral Argument  is set for Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. in the Courtroom of the Montana Supreme Court, Joseph P. Mazurek Justice Building, Helena, Montana.

Shannon Sweeney was the court-appointed attorney for a man charged with possession of dangerous drugs. After Sweeney’s client failed to appear at a final pretrial conference, the State of Montana additionally charged him with bail-jumping. In connection with the bail-jumping charge, the Third Judicial District Court has ordered Sweeney to testify on the State’s behalf about her communication with her former client concerning the pretrial conference. Sweeney asks the Montana Supreme Court to direct the District Court not to require her to testify, on grounds that attorney-client privilege bars her from doing so.

The Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Sweeney’s position.


FEBRUARY

--OP 17-0677    DUANE C. KOHOUTEK, INC., a Montana corporation, BUCHER SALES, LLC, a Montana Limited Liability Company, NOBLES, INC., a Montana corporation, and SPIRITS PLUS, LLC, a Montana Limited Liability Company, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs and Appellees, v. STATE OF MONTANA, DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, Defendant and Appellant. .     Oral Argument  is set for Wednesday, February 7, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. in the Courtroom of the Montana Supreme Court, Joseph P. Mazurek Justice Building, Helena, Montana.

Kohoutek and other owners of Montana liquor stores (the Class) brought this action against the State of Montana to challenge the constitutionality of a statute (repealed in 2015) regarding case-lot discounts for the purchase of liquor from the State. The Eighth Judicial District Court ruled that the statute violated Class members’ right to equal protection and that the Class is entitled to $26,156,411.65 in damages from the State, plus $8,718,803.88 in attorney fees, litigation expenses, and class representative incentive awards payable from the judgment; plus judgment interest and costs.

On behalf of the State, Appellant Montana Department of Revenue raises several issues on appeal. It argues the District Court erred when it: (1) ruled that the weighted average discount ratio (WADR) found at § 16-2-101(2)(b)(ii)(B), MCA (2013), failed rational basis review under the constitutional right to equal protection, and by applying a change in circumstances test to render the WADR unconstitutional; (2) denied the State’s motion to amend its answer to include a statute of limitations defense; (3) ruled that the doctrine of laches did not bar the Class’s claims for monetary damages; (4) awarded damages (including interest) to the Class and calculated those damages; and (5) ruled that the Class is entitled to attorney fees under the private attorney general doctrine.

On cross-appeal, the Class argues that the District Court erred in relying on the statute, after having found it invalid, to set storeowner expectations in the takings claim.