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City of Helena v. Grove

Supreme Court of Montana

May 9, 2017

CITY OF HELENA, MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
ANTHONY HAROLD GROVE, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: February 22, 2017

         APPEAL FROM: District Court of the First Judicial District, In and For the County of Lewis and Clark, Cause No. BDC 2016-159 Honorable DeeAnn Cooney, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Greg Beebe, Beebe Law Firm, Helena, Montana.

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Katie F. Schulz, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana, Thomas Jodoin, Helena City Attorney, Todd Baker, Deputy City Attorney, Helena, Montana.

          OPINION

          DIRK M. SANDEFUR JUSTICE.

         ¶1 Following a traffic stop, a City of Helena police officer arrested Anthony Harold Grove and cited him for misdemeanor driving under the influence, third offense, and a related traffic offense. Grove pled not guilty. On the morning of his trial in the City of Helena Municipal Court, Grove filed a motion to dismiss the charges on the grounds that a trial delay violated his right to a speedy trial under § 46-13-401(2), MCA. The Municipal Court denied the motion. After a jury convicted him at trial, Grove appealed the Municipal Court's denial of his speedy trial motion to the First Judicial District Court. The District Court affirmed and Grove timely appealed. We reverse, addressing the following issue:

         Did the trial court correctly measure the six-month speedy trial deadline under § 46-13-401(2), MCA?

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 The sole issue turns on the proper measurement of "months" for purposes of § 46-13-401(2), MCA. The relevant facts are not in dispute on appeal.

         ¶3 A Helena police officer cited Grove for two misdemeanor offenses on September 27, 2015. Grove was arraigned on September 28, 2015. The Municipal Court initially scheduled Grove's trial for February 18, 2016, but moved the trial sua sponte to March 29, 2016. On the morning of trial, Grove filed a motion to dismiss, asserting the date of trial was one day past the six-month speedy trial deadline specified for misdemeanor prosecutions by § 46-13-401(2), MCA. After the Municipal Court denied the motion, a jury convicted Grove as charged at a one-day jury trial on March 29, 2016.

         STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         ¶4 District courts serve as intermediate appellate courts for cases tried in municipal courts. City of Red Lodge v. Pepper, 2016 MT 317, ¶ 11, 385 Mont. 465, 385 P.3d 547; §§ 3-5-303, 3-6-110, MCA. The scope of district court review on intermediate appeal is confined to review of the record and questions of law. Pepper, ¶ 11; § 3-6-110, MCA. We review district court appellate decisions under the applicable standard of review as if originally appealed to this Court. Pepper, ¶ 11 (citing City of Kalispell v. Gabbert, 2014 MT 296, ¶ 12, 377 Mont. 17, 338 P.3d 51). Whether a criminal defendant's statutory right to speedy trial has been violated is a question of law subject to de novo review for correctness. Pepper, ¶ 12 (citing Gabbert, ¶ 13).

         DISCUSSION

         ¶5 Did the trial court correctly measure the six-month speedy trial ...


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