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State v. Kampf

Supreme Court of Montana

November 29, 2016

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
RICHARD NORMAN KAMPF, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: September 14, 2016

         District Court of the Eleventh Judicial District, In and For the County of Flathead, Cause No. DC 12-436 Honorable David M. Ortley, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Chad Wright, Chief Appellate Defender, James Reavis, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana.

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Jonathan M. Krauss, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana..

          Ed Corrigan, Flathead County Attorney, Caitlin Overland, Deputy County Attorney, Kalispell, Montana.



         ¶1 Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and Montana Reports.

         ¶2 Richard Kampf (Kampf) appeals from his conviction in Flathead County Justice Court and the ruling in his subsequent appeal to the Eleventh Judicial District Court. After he received multiple misdemeanor citations on December 12, 2006, Kampf never appeared to answer for the charges in Justice Court-despite the court issuing a bench warrant-until he was arrested for Partner or Family Member Assault in 2012, and the previous warrant was uncovered. He filed a motion to dismiss the 2006 citations on Montana and United States Constitutional speedy trial grounds on September 18, 2012, which the Justice Court denied. The court concluded that § 46-13-402(2), MCA, which governs, among other things, speedy trial standards for misdemeanor prosecutions, had not been satisfied because not more than six months had elapsed between the defendant's initial appearance to enter a plea and his subsequent trial. However, approximately six years had passed since the county had issued the initial complaint against him and his trial. The Justice Court held, and the District Court affirmed on appeal, that Article II, Section 24, of the Montana Constitution does not apply to misdemeanor offenses, leaving the six month window between appearance and trial in § 46-13-402(2), MCA, as the standard and sole basis of analysis for an alleged speedy trial violation in a misdemeanor prosecution in Justice Court. We affirm.

         ¶3 We restate the issue for review as follows: Whether Article II, Section 24, of the Montana Constitution, and the framework of analysis promulgated in State v. Ariegwe 2007 MT 204, 338 Mont. 442, 167 P.3d 815, apply to misdemeanor prosecutions.

         ¶4 Trooper David Mills cited Kampf on December 12, 2006 for driving while suspended (§ 61-5-212, MCA); failing to carry proof of insurance (§ 61-6-302, MCA); and following too closely (§ 61-8-329, MCA) in the aftermath of an accident. All of the charges for which the citations were issued were misdemeanors. The citations required Kampf to appear personally in Flathead County Justice Court on December 22, 2006. Kampf did not appear before the court on December 22, and did not heed the court's warning letter sent on January 5, 2007. The Justice Court suspended his license on January 29, 2007, and issued a bench warrant on March 6, 2007 for his failure to appear. That warrant remained in effect until July 16, 2012, when Kampf was arrested on charges of Partner or Family Member Assault (PFMA). He appeared in Justice Court on July 17, 2012, to answer for the PFMA charge and his misdemeanor citations. He pled not guilty to all charges, but failed to appear at his omnibus hearing on August 28, 2012. In his absence, the court set trial for his 2006 misdemeanor charges for October 16, 2012.

         ¶5 Through assigned counsel, Kampf moved to dismiss his misdemeanor charges on Montana and United States constitutional speedy trial grounds on September 18, 2012, but the Justice Court denied his motion by order on October 5, 2012. In his motion for dismissal, Kampf argued that the delay between the filing of the complaint against him and his trial date, a span of approximately six years, violated his right to a speedy trial under the United States and Montana Constitutions. In its order denying the motion, the Justice Court reasoned that this Court's decision in Ariegwe, the controlling framework for constitutional speedy trial claims in Montana, did not apply to misdemeanor violations. Rather than following Ariegwe by conducting a speedy trial hearing, the Justice Court held that Ariegwe did not apply, and § 46-13-401(2), MCA, instead controlled the analysis.

         ¶6 Less than six months had passed between Kampf entering a plea on July 17, 2012, and his motion to dismiss being filed on September 18, 2012. Since the Justice Court recognized § 46-13-401(2), MCA, as the only controlling authority, the court concluded Kampf had not been denied his speedy trial right. Kampf did not appear at his bench trial on October 16, 2012 and was convicted on all counts in absentia. Kampf appealed to the Eleventh Judicial District Court, where the Justice Court's rationale underlying the denial of his motion to dismiss was upheld, and his convictions were affirmed.

         ¶7 On appeal from Justice Court, the District Court functions as an intermediate appellate court. See §§ 3-5-303 and 3-10-115, MCA. On appeal to this Court, we review the case as if the appeal had been filed originally in this Court. City of Bozeman v. Cantu, 2013 MT 40, ¶ 10, 369 Mont. 81, 296 P.3d 461; State v. Ellison, 2012 MT 50, ¶ 8, 364 Mont. 276, 272 P.3d 646 (citing Stanley v. Lemire, 2006 MT 304, ¶ 26, 334 Mont. 489, 148 P.3d 643). "We examine the record independently of the district court's decision, reviewing the trial court's findings of fact under the clearly erroneous standard, its discretionary rulings for abuse of discretion, and its legal conclusions and mixed questions of law and fact under the de novo standard." Ellison, 8.

         ¶8 We have previously held that while "Ariegwe has no application in a statutory speedy-trial claim, " a defendant is not precluded from pursuing both his statutory right to a speedy trial and his constitutional right to a speedy trial in the same matter. City of Helena v. Heppner, 2015 MT 15, ¶¶ 13, 18, 378 Mont. 68, 341 P.3d 640. A statute may not abrogate a constitutional provision, so a defendant is free to pursue constitutional protections ...

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