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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 .

Submitted on Briefs: August 21, 2013

APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Eighteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Gallatin, Cause No. DC 12-0168A Honorable Holly Brown, Presiding Judge

For Appellant: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General; Barbara C. Harris, Assistant Attorney General; Tammy K Plubell, Assistant Attorney General,

For Appellee: Al Avignone; Lisa A. Banick; Avignone, Banick & Williams, PLLC, Bozeman, Montana

For Amicus: Anna Conley, ACLU of Montana, Missoula, Montana

OPINION

Mike McGrath Chief Justice

¶1 The State of Montana appeals the District Court's "Order on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, " filed January 11, 2013. We reverse.

¶2 The issue on appeal is whether the District Court erred in dismissing a charge against Madsen under § 45-5-204, MCA.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

¶3 In 2011 Thomas Madsen was a Gallatin County Sheriff's Deputy. On February 9, 2011, K.J. was a female juvenile whose parents brought her to the Gallatin County Law & Justice Center and requested law enforcement assistance in getting her transported to residential treatment. At the time of the incident involved in this case, officers detained K.J. in a small interview room, with her hands cuffed to a waist belt and shackles on her legs. When she attempted to turn off the light and lie on the floor, Madsen, who was outside the room, ordered her to sit at the table with the lights on and warned that if she did not do so she would "find [herself] in a whole world of hurt."

¶4 When K.J. did not comply with Madsen's orders he entered the room, grabbed her by the neck, and pushed her against the wall, banging her head. Another officer entered the room and separated Madsen from K.J. In his brief on appeal Madsen refers to the incident as a "physical control maneuver."

¶5 On September 4, 2012, the State charged Madsen with mistreating prisoners, a felony offense, pursuant to § 45-5-204, MCA. Madsen subsequently moved to dismiss the charge, contending that K.J. was not a "prisoner" under that statute. The District Court agreed, holding that a "prisoner" under § 45-5-204, MCA, means only "an individual who is serving a sentence at the State prison or another State facility as the result of a conviction." The District Court dismissed the charge against Madsen because K.J. was a juvenile, she had not been convicted of an offense, and she was not being held in a State facility. The State appeals.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶6 This Court reviews de novo, for correctness, a district court's decision on a motion to dismiss a criminal case, and its decision on the interpretation and construction of a statute. State v. Dugan, 2013 MT 38, ¶ 13, 369 Mont. 39, 303 P.3d 755 (dismissal of a criminal case); State v. Brown, ...


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