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Schoof v. Nesbitt

Supreme Court of Montana

September 26, 2013

BRIAN F. SCHOOF, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
JACK NESBITT, et al., Defendants and Appellees.

ORDER

In this matter, Brian F. Schoof has appealed from the orders of the Sixteenth Judicial District Court dismissing claims he brought against the named Defendants. Among his claims, Schoof asserted a count for declaratory relief that a policy adopted by the Custer County Commissioners was unlawful on multiple grounds, including violation of the constitutional rights to know and participate. The District Court dismissed this declaratory count on the ground that Schoof lacked standing to bring the claim. Schoof has not appealed the dismissal of that claim.

Schoof also alleged separate violations of his right to know and right to participate, which the District Court dismissed as time barred under the statute of limitations. Schoof has appealed the dismissal of his right to know claim. The District Court did not discuss the question of standing with regard to Schoof s right to know claim and the parties have not argued that question in their briefing. However, as we recently explained:

The question of standing is an exception to the general rule that we will not address issues not properly preserved for appeal. Armstrong v. State, 1999 MT 261, ¶ 4, 296 Mont. 361, 989 P.2d 364. Parties cannot waive objections to standing. Jones v. Mont. Univ. Sys.9 2007 MT 82, ¶ 48, 337 Mont. 1, 155 P.3d 1247. "Standing . . . 4is a threshold requirement in every case[, ] which we must address and decide sua sponte even if it is not raised by a litigant.'" In re K.H., 2012 MT 175, ¶ 23, 366 Mont. 18, 285 P.3d 474 (quoting Dick Anderson Constr., Inc. v. Monroe Constr. Co., LLC, 2009 MT 416, ¶ 46, 353 Mont. 534, 221 P.3d 675).

Baxter Homeowners Ass'n v. Angel, 2013 MT 83, ¶ 14, 369 Mont. 398, 298 P.3d 1145.

The Court has determined sua sponte to undertake consideration of the threshold requirement of standing. Because the parties have not addressed the issue, the Court deems it necessary to receive supplemental briefing. Therefore,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the parties will submit briefs on the question of Schoof s standing to bring a right to know claim herein. The briefs from both parties shall be due on or before Friday, October 25, and shall not exceed 5, 000 words.

The Clerk of this Court is directed to provide copies of this Order to all counsel of record and to the Honorable Blair Jones, Sixteenth Judicial District Court, presiding District Judge.


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