Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Stratton

Supreme Court of Montana

May 9, 2017

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
CHARLES BYRON STRATTON, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: March 15, 2017

         APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, In and For the County of Cascade, Cause No. CDC-13-395 Honorable Kenneth Neill, Presiding Judge.

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

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Mardell Ployhar, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana

          John Parker, Cascade County Attorney, Amanda Lofink, Deputy County Attorney, Great Falls, Montana

          James Jeremiah Shea Justice

         ¶1 Defendant Charles Stratton appeals from his conviction in the Eighth Judicial District, Cascade County. Stratton was convicted of Obstructing a Peace Officer, Partner or Family Member Assault, three counts of Criminal Endangerment, two counts of Violation of Order of Protection, and Resisting Arrest. We restate the issues as follows:

         Issue One: Whether Stratton's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is reviewable on direct appeal.

         Issue Two: Whether Stratton is entitled to seek specific performance of a plea agreement that he contends the State breached.

         ¶2 We affirm.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 On August 17, 2013, Stratton was involved in a standoff with police at his home in Belt, Montana. He was arrested and charged with eight offenses: one count misdemeanor Obstructing a Peace Officer; one count misdemeanor Partner or Family Member Assault (PFMA); three counts felony Criminal Endangerment; two counts misdemeanor Violation of Order of Protection; and one count misdemeanor Resisting Arrest. After several delays, the District Court set a trial date for June 16, 2014, approximately 300 days after the initial charges were filed. On May 12, 2014, Stratton filed a Motion to Dismiss Due to Speedy Trial Violation. Before the scheduled hearing on Stratton's Motion to Dismiss, Stratton and the State entered into a plea agreement pursuant to § 46-12-211(1)(b), MCA. Stratton agreed to plead guilty to one count criminal endangerment and one count PFMA in exchange for the State dismissing the other charges. The agreement included a recommended ten-year suspended sentence on the criminal endangerment charge and a concurrent one-year sentence, with all but one day suspended, on the PFMA charge.

         ¶4 On June 11, 2014, Stratton entered guilty pleas pursuant to the plea agreement. The District Court ordered a presentence investigation report (PSI). On August 26, 2014, the District Court held a sentencing hearing. At the outset of the hearing, and in response to a question from the District Court, the prosecutor advised the Court that there were several police officers present who were opposed to the plea agreement, but that the State was "not specifically offering [their] testimony." The District Court asked the State about the victim, who was not present at the hearing but had made a Victim Impact Statement for the PSI. After concluding the exchange about the victim, the District Court asked the State to question the PSI's author, Officer Williams, about his opposition to the plea agreement. The District Court also called for Deputy Lebrun and Officer Hides to be questioned. Stratton made no objections to these witnesses being called. After hearing all the testimony, the District Court rejected the plea agreement.

         ¶5 After the District Court rejected the plea agreement, Stratton chose to withdraw his guilty pleas and proceed to trial. In the interim between withdrawing his guilty pleas and the new trial date, Stratton did not seek a ruling on his speedy trial motion to dismiss. On December 9, 2014, a jury convicted Stratton on all eight charges against him. On the felony criminal endangerment charges, the District Court sentenced Stratton to ten years Montana State Prison (MSP) with no time suspended on the first felony conviction (Count III), and ten years MSP, suspended, on the remaining two felony convictions (Counts IV and V). The District Court ordered Counts IV and V to run concurrent with ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.