Submitted on Briefs: May 15, 2013
APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Twenty-First Judicial District, In and For the County of Ravalli, Cause No. DC 12-83 Honorable James A. Haynes, Presiding Judge
COUNSEL OF RECORD:
For Appellant: Wade Zolynski, Chief Appellate Defender; Jonathan King, Assistant Appellate Defender; Helena, Montana
For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General; Jonathan M. Krauss, Assistant Attorney General; Helena, Montana
William E. Fulbright, Ravalli County Attorney; John Bell, Deputy County Attorney; Hamilton, Montana
Justice Beth Baker
¶1 Lester Joe Case (Case) appeals the Montana Twenty-First Judicial District Court's order affirming the Ravalli County Justice Court's denial of his motion to dismiss. We affirm. On appeal, we consider whether the District Court erred when it upheld the denial of Case's motion to dismiss the charges against him for lack of speedy trial.
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
¶2 Upon responding to a domestic assault call on the evening of July 23, 2011, Ravalli County Sheriff's deputies found Case's wife, Sherri, waiting outside of the couple's home. Sherri told the deputies that she and Case began arguing after she returned home and found her belongings dumped on their living room floor. When Sherri walked into their kitchen during the argument, Case shoved her in the chest and knocked her into the edge of a kitchen counter, injuring her.
¶3 Two days later, the State charged Case with Partner or Family Member Assault (PFMA) in violation of § 45-5-206(3)(iv), MCA. The State alleged that, because Case had twice been convicted of PFMA, the pending charge against Case was a felony. On August 18, 2011, Case appeared before the District Court and entered a not guilty plea. Then, on October 26, 2011, the District Court dismissed the felony charge after the State conceded that one of Case's prior PFMA charges had been dismissed. Later that day, the State filed with the Ravalli County Justice Court a misdemeanor PFMA charge against Case.
¶4 On November 15, 2011, Case appeared before the Justice Court and pled not guilty to the misdemeanor charge. The court set a trial date for May 5, 2012. Case filed a motion to dismiss on March 23, 2012 for failure to provide a speedy trial. He alleged that the State had failed to bring his case to trial within six months of his initial plea on the dismissed felony PFMA charge, as required by § 46-13-401(2), MCA. After the Justice Court denied his motion to dismiss, Case pled guilty to the reduced charge of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, in violation of § 45-8-101(1)(a), MCA. Case reserved the right to appeal the denial of his motion to dismiss to the District Court. The District Court affirmed the denial of Case's motion to dismiss on July 26, 2012. Case appeals.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
¶5 "When a district court acts in an appellate capacity, we review to determine whether the district court reached the correct conclusions under the appropriate standards of review." State v. Finley, 2011 MT 89, ¶ 17, 360 Mont. 173, 252 P.3d 199. We review a district court's denial of a motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial "to determine whether the district court's findings of fact were clearly erroneous." State v. Steigelman, 2013 MT 153, ¶ 10, 370 Mont. 352, P.3d (citing State v. Ariegwe, 2007 MT 204, ¶ 119, 338 Mont. 442, 167 P.3d 815). Whether a misdemeanor charge must be dismissed under the speedy ...