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.

Sweeney v. Dayton

Supreme Court of Montana

April 24, 2018

SHANNON LEIGH SWEENEY, Petitioner,
v.
MONTANA THIRD JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, HONORABLE RAY J. DAYTON, District Judge, Respondent.

          Argued and Submitted: January 31, 2018

          Petition for Writ of Supervisory Control In and For the County of Anaconda-Deer Lodge Cause No. DC-16-96 Honorable Ray J. Dayton, Presiding Judge

          For Petitioner: Brian C. Smith (argued), Smith Law, PLLC, Missoula, Montana

          For Respondent: Michelle Sievers (argued), Deputy County Attorney, Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, Anaconda, Montana

          For Amicus Curiae: Peter F. Lacny, Datsopoulos, MacDonald & Lind, P.C., Missoula, Montana

          For Defendant Dakota James McClanahan: Ed Sheehy, Office of the State Public Defender, Butte, Montana

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Mike McGrath, Chief Justice

         ¶1 Petitioner seeks a writ of supervisory control concerning the Third Judicial District Court's order granting the State's motion in limine that compels Shannon Sweeney (Sweeney), an attorney, to testify against her client, Dakota James McClanahan (McClanahan), on a bail jumping charge.

         ¶2 We restate the issue as follows:

         Whether the District Court erred when it denied the motion to quash a subpoena compelling an attorney to testify regarding communications she may have had with her client.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 In May 2016, Sweeney was appointed to represent McClanahan, who was charged with possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute. McClanahan pled not guilty and was ultimately released after he signed the District Court's Release Order and Conditions of Release. McClanahan did not show up to the final pretrial conference on November 16, 2016, and was subsequently charged with bail jumping.

         ¶4 Ed Sheehy was appointed to represent McClanahan on the bail jumping charge, and he moved to dismiss. Sheehy argued McClanahan did not have notice of the November 16, 2016 hearing. Knowledge of the final pretrial conference is a necessary element of the bail jumping charge. The District Court denied McClanahan's motion to dismiss, concluding that the State should be allowed to introduce evidence at trial as to what, if anything, Sweeney told McClanahan about appearing at the final pretrial conference on November 16, 2016. Shortly thereafter, Sweeney sent a letter notifying the State that she would assert attorney-client privilege for any line of questioning about communications with McClanahan and the preparation of his defense.

         ¶5 The State filed a motion in limine and the District Court determined that Sweeney would have to testify as to whether she told McClanahan about the final pretrial conference. The State issued a subpoena directing Sweeney to appear and testify at trial. Sweeney made a motion to quash the subpoena, which was denied by the District Court. Sweeney filed a Petition for a Writ of Supervisory Control with this Court, alleging that she should not be required to testify against McClanahan based on the attorney-client privilege. We granted the writ on November 20, 2017, and heard oral argument on the merits of the issues raised on January 31, 2018.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶6 This Court has supervisory control over all other courts and may, on a case-by-case basis, supervise a district court by way of a writ of supervisory control. Mont. Const, art. VII, § 2(2); M. R. App. P. 14(3). Supervisory control is appropriate when the normal appeal process is inadequate, when the case involves purely legal questions, and when one or more of the following circumstances exist: (1) the other court is proceeding under a mistake of law and is causing a gross injustice; (2) constitutional issues of state-wide importance are involved; or (3) the other court has granted or denied a motion for substitution of a judge in a criminal case. State v. Spady, 2015 MT 218, ¶ 11, 380 Mont. 179, 354 P.3d 590; M. R. App. P. 14(3). We review questions of statutory interpretation de novo. Sartain v. State, 2017 MT 216, ¶ 9, 388 Mont. 421, 401 P.3d701.

         DISCUSSION

         ¶7 Whether the District Court erred when it denied the motion to quash a subpoena compelling an attorney to testify regarding communications she may have had with her client.

         ¶8 This case satisfies the criteria for supervisory control. The normal appeal process would be inadequate here, as the issue before us is whether an attorney may be required by the District Court to testify against her client on a different charge. This case also involves a purely legal question. We hold the District Court is proceeding under a ...


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.