Submitted on Briefs: August 22, 2018
FROM: District Court of the Eleventh Judicial District, In
and For the County of Flathead, Cause No. DC 17-520(JA)
Honorable Robert B. Allison, Presiding Judge.
Appellant: William M. Russell, Self-Represented, Columbia
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, C. Mark
Fowler, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana.
Corrigan, Flathead County Attorney, Renn C. Fairchild, Deputy
County Attorney, Kalispell, Montana.
Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court
Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum
opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as
precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition
shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of
noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and
William M. Russell (Russell) appeals his criminal trespass
and criminal mischief convictions following jury trial in the
Justice Court of Flathead County, and the subsequent appeal
he took to the District Court. We affirm.
"We review cases that originate in justice court[s of
record] and are appealed to district court as if the appeal
originally had been filed in this Court. Accordingly, we
undertake an independent examination of the record apart from
the district court's decision." State v.
Lamarr, 2014 MT 222, ¶ 9, 376 Mont. 232, 332 P.3d
258 (internal citations omitted). We review lower court
findings of fact for whether they are clearly erroneous and
conclusions of law for correctness. State v. Davis,
2016 MT 206, ¶¶ 5-6, 384 Mont. 388, 378 P.3d 1192.
We have reviewed the lower court proceedings and find no
reversible error. Russell was charged with misdemeanor
criminal trespass on and criminal mischief to property
purchased in good faith and possessed by the Belk's.
Russell's list of appeal issues revolve around his claim
that he had a legal entitlement to enter the Belk's
property. Russell contends he had an ownership interest in
the property and that it was inappropriately sold by his
ex-wife in violation of a restraining order previously issued
in his Arizona divorce proceedings. Even if the property was
sold in violation of another court's order, Russell had
no right to be on the property. Russell clearly knew the
property was sold at a sheriff's sale. Russell's
remedy for an alleged wrongful sale of the property, if any,
was against the seller (his ex-wife) for damages, not
re-possession of the property by him from the good faith
purchasers. Russell had no possessory interest or privilege
in the property and had no authorization from the Belks to
enter. Nothing in Russell's briefs show any authority
obligating the Justice Court to clear title to the property.
Further, even assuming Russell to have putative title of the
property, putative title held by one with no privilege to
enter the property does not permit the invasion of the
possessory and custodial rights of good faith purchasers of
the property. Russell has presented no cogent argument that
the Justice or District Courts were legally obligated in any
way to clarify his purported title claim in the criminal
proceeding. Equally irrelevant are Russell's other
assertions about his property rights. Russell has failed to
show any basis to assert prosecutorial misconduct in charging
the offenses it did or how he was prejudiced by any
evidentiary rulings. It is not appropriate for an appellant
to merely list his beliefs as to purported errors and then
leave it for this Court to try to figure out how those
purported errors prejudiced the appellant. Review of the
record shows no abuse of discretion by the prosecution or by
the trial court in evidentiary rulings or conduct of the
We have determined to decide this case pursuant to Section I,
Paragraph 3(c) of our Internal Operating Rules, which
provides for memorandum opinions. In the opinion of the
Court, the case presents a question controlled by settled law
or by the clear application of applicable standards of
concur: MIKE McGRATH, JAMES JEREMIAH SHEA, DIRK M. ...