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State v. Shepp

Supreme Court of Montana

November 29, 2016

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
CARL R. SHEPP, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: October 12, 2016

         APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Twenty-First Judicial District, In and For the County of Ravalli, Cause No. DC 15-104 Honorable Jeffrey H. Langton, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Dwight J. Schulte, Schulte Law Firm, P.C., Missoula, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, C. Mark Fowler, Assistant Attorney General, Anne Sherwood, Legal Intern, Helena, Montana, Bill Fulbright, Ravalli County Attorney, Bill Lower, Deputy County Attorney, Hamilton, Montana.

          OPINION

          JAMES JEREMIAH SHEA JUSTICE.

         ¶1 Carl R. Shepp appeals an order of the Twenty-First Judicial District Court, Ravalli County, denying his motion to suppress the results of a blood test that led to his conviction for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). We address the following issue:

Whether or not the District Court erred by denying Shepp's motion to suppress the results of his blood test.

         ¶2 We affirm.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 On September 19, 2014, Ravalli County Deputy Sheriff Gordy Jessop pulled Shepp over after observing Shepp fail to signal a turn. Deputy Jessop asked Shepp if he had been drinking, and Shepp responded that he had "five or six beers" before driving. Deputy Jessop conducted a series of field sobriety tests and asked Shepp to consent to a preliminary breath test. Shepp refused. Deputy Jessop then asked Shepp to consent to a blood test at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital in Hamilton. After several minutes of indecision, Shepp stated: "Sure, I'll take the blood test." Deputy Jessop helped Shepp into his patrol car and explained the blood test procedure, to which Shepp responded: "Yes, sir."

         ¶4 When he arrived at the hospital, Shepp was given a "Patient Consent and Financial Agreement" (Patient Consent Form) to sign. The Patient Consent Form provided: "I consent to the treatment and procedures to be performed in connection with my inpatient, outpatient and/or emergency medical treatment at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital . . . ." After Shepp studied the Patient Consent Form for several minutes without signing it, Deputy Jessop took it from him and signed on the signature line. Seconds later, Shepp's blood was drawn. Shepp did not verbally or physically resist the blood test.

         ¶5 On September 19, 2014, the State charged Shepp in the Ravalli County Justice Court with DUI in violation of § 61-8-401, MCA. Shepp filed a motion to suppress the results of his blood test, which the Justice Court denied. Shepp then pled guilty, reserving his right to appeal the Justice Court's denial of his motion to suppress. On May 14, 2015, Shepp filed a notice of appeal in the District Court. On June 18, 2015, Shepp filed a motion to suppress, asking the District Court to suppress the results of his blood test and dismiss the case. On July 13, 2015, the District Court held a suppression hearing, during which both Shepp and Deputy Jessop testified. On July 20, 2015, the District Court issued an order denying Shepp's motion to suppress. Shepp appeals that decision.

         STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         ¶6 An appeal from a justice court that is not a court of record "must be tried anew in the district court on the papers filed in the justice's . . . court unless the [district] court, for good cause shown and on terms that are just, allows other or amended pleadings to be filed in the action." Section 25-33-301(1), MCA. Additionally, "[e]ach party has the benefit of all legal objections made in the justice's . . . court." Section 25-33-301(1), MCA. Thus, the parties' justice court filings are subsumed into the district court record. In all other ways, the district court acts as a trial court-rather than an intermediate appellate court-and we review its decision applying the same standards that we would to any other district court decision. Compare § 25-33-301(2), MCA ("When the action is tried anew on appeal, the trial must be conducted in all respects as other trials in the district court.") (applying to appeals from justice courts that are not courts of record), with State v. Hodge, 2014 MT 308, ¶ 11, 377 ...


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