Submitted on Briefs: August 23, 2017
Court of the Twenty-First Judicial District, In and For the
County of Ravalli, Cause No. DC 20 14-279 Honorable James A.
Haynes, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Chad Wright, Chief Appellate Defender, Moses
Okeyo, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Tammy A.
Hinderman; Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana,
William E. Fulbright, Ravalli County Attorney, Angela
Wetzsteon, Deputy County Attorney, Hamilton, Montana
MICHAEL E WHEAT, JUSTICE.
Murry Kim Reynolds (Reynolds) was convicted of felony Driving
While Under the Influence of Alcohol, fourth or subsequent
offense (DUI), and two misdemeanors: Failure To Have
Liability Insurance In Effect and Failure To Drive On The
Right Side Of The Roadway. He does not challenge his
convictions on appeal; however, he appeals from the June 21,
2016 Judgment in which the District Court imposed fines,
surcharges, prosecution costs, public defender costs, and
court technology fees. We affirm in part and reverse in part.
We restate the issues on appeal as follows:
Issue One: Did the District Court err by failing to
adequately determine Reynolds's ability to pay before
imposing fines, surcharges, prosecution costs, and public
Issue Two: Did the District Court err by imposing
statutory surcharges and court user fees?
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On November 19, 2014, Reynolds was charged by Information in
Ravalli County with felony DUI and two misdemeanors: Failure
To Have Liability Insurance In Effect and Failure To Drive On
The Right Side Of The Roadway. On March 5, 2015, Reynolds and
the State entered into a plea agreement, in which the State
agreed to drop the misdemeanors and Reynolds would plead
guilty to the felony. The court ordered a presentence
investigation (PSI) report, which was filed on June 18, 2015.
The PSI report specifically addressed the felony charge and
made recommendations for sentencing and imposition of fees.
The PSI report also discussed Reynolds's financial
Specifically, the PSI reported that: (1) Reynolds had been
employed part-time at Caras Property Management earning
approximately $1, 500 per month; (2) his assets were $3, 000
and his debts were $5, 000; (3) his wife was employed
part-time earning approximately $700 per month; (4) he paid
$500 in rent monthly; (5) he owned two vehicles valued at $5,
500 and tools valued at $3, 000, and outstanding loans on the
vehicles totaled $5, 000. The PSI also reported that Reynolds
planned to be semi-retired and to expand his welding into a
part-time business, and that he was in "fair"
health, but had kidney stones and was on medication for high
blood pressure. The PSI report concluded Reynolds had the
ability to pay the fines and fees associated with the felony
DUI, including an $800 public defender fee. Reynolds
requested the court to "be as lenient as possible"
due to his record, age, and health.
Prior to sentencing, Reynolds filed an unopposed motion to
withdraw his guilty plea, which the District Court granted. A
jury trial was held on May 9-10, 2016, on all three charges.
At trial, Reynolds testified he was retired, but that prior
to retirement he was employed as a maintenance man at a local
rental agency and a welder. Reynolds testified his past jobs
were "tough work, " resulting in numerous physical
injuries and ailments, which prevented him from doing too
much physical work. He testified he had been diagnosed with
PTSD and had been on medication for the condition for the
past eight years. The jury found Reynolds guilty on all three
At the May 19, 2016 sentencing hearing, the District Court
commented that the Montana Supreme Court had recently handed
down a new case requiring him, as the judge, to have detailed
findings regarding the defendant's ability to pay for any
fines, fees, or costs it imposed. The District Court then
delayed sentencing, as it did not have the actual fees
incurred by the public defender's office for
Reynolds's defense or Reynolds's current employment
status, prospects, or financial situation. The court required
Reynolds to produce his tax returns; a full financial
statement, including holdings; his wife's finances; and
property, real or otherwise. In response to the District
Court order, Reynolds produced his 2015 joint income tax
return, which showed a total income of $19, 144. The bank
statements showed deposits totaling $1, 830.54 for April 2016
and $1, 766.83 for May 2016. Both totals for the month
include a $1, 090 social security deposit.
At the June 2, 2016 sentencing hearing, Reynolds's public
defender filed notice stating he had incurred $5, 829 in fees
while representing Reynolds. During the hearing Reynolds
testified that (1) he was not currently employed; (2) his
only income was social security benefits; (3) he planned to
work "on the side" as a welder but lost his
driver's license due to his DUIs; (4) he paid $500 per
month in rent; (5) he had two vehicles, each with an
outstanding loan-$1, 000 on his Chevy and $1, 800 on his
wife's Buick-with monthly payments of $100 on each
vehicle; and (6) he had no other debts. Reynolds opined that
he would lose his social security benefits during
incarceration, which would hurt his family financially.
The District Court then directly questioned Reynolds