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State v. Madsen

Supreme Court of Montana

September 26, 2013

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
THOMAS LENARD MADSEN, Defendant and Appellee. [1]

SYNOPSIS OF THE CASE

The Montana Supreme Court has reversed the dismissal of charges against a Gallatin County Sheriffs Deputy who allegedly grabbed a teenage girl by the neck and pushed her against a wall while she was handcuffed and shackled in an interrogation room.

The State charged Thomas Madsen with mistreating a prisoner after the incident, which occurred in 2011. The Gallatin County District Court dismissed the charges because it found that the girl was not a prisoner. The District Court said that the word "prisoner" refers only to someone who has been convicted of a crime and is serving a sentence at a State facility. The girl was a juvenile, was not convicted of any offense, and was held at a county, not State, facility.

The Supreme Court rejected the District Court's definition of the word "prisoner." The Supreme Court held that the common meaning of the word "prisoner" includes anyone whose liberty is restrained by law enforcement. That may include juveniles, people held in county facilities, and people who are held while awaiting trial.

The case is now sent back to the Gallatin County District Court for further proceedings.


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