Submitted on Briefs: February 22, 2017
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.
Appellant: Greg Beebe, Beebe Law Firm, Helena, Montana.
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.
M. SANDEFUR JUSTICE.
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:
the trial court correctly measure the six-month speedy trial
deadline under § 46-13-401(2), MCA?
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.
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.
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).
Did the trial court correctly measure the six-month
speedy trial ...