WILLIAM JORGENSEN ON BEHALF OF AND AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF CHRISTOPHER JORGENSEN, DECEASED, AND MYSELF, Plaintiff and Appellant,
TODD A STUBBS, Respondent and Appellee.
Submitted on Briefs: September 12, 2018
FROM District Court of the Eighteenth Judicial District, In
and For the County of Gallatin, Cause No. DV 16-568C
Honorable John C. Brown, Presiding Judge
Appellant: William Jorgensen, self-represented, Williston,
Appellee: Denny K. Palmer, Wall, McLean & Gallagher,
PLLC, Helena, Montana
Pursuant to Section 1, 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
Appellant William Jorgensen (Jorgensen) challenges the entry
of summary judgment herein by the Eighteenth Judicial
District Court in favor of Appellee Todd A. Stubbs (Stubbs),
on all claims, on the ground that Jorgenson's action was
The factual and procedural history of this matter dates back
over 14 years, including a previous appeal to this Court.
Jorgensen v. Gallatin County, 2011 MT 158N, 264 P.3d
519 (Jorgensen I). In April 2004, Jorgensen's
son, Christopher Jorgensen (Christopher), died of a gunshot
wound to the head after taking a former girlfriend, A.G.,
hostage in her Gallatin County home and assaulting her,
leading to a standoff with police. Jorgensen I,
¶ 3. A law enforcement investigation concluded that
Christopher's death was a suicide. Jorgensen I,
¶ 6. Jorgensen did not believe Christopher committed
suicide, but had been murdered, and after his own
investigation, became even more convinced. Jorgensen
I, ¶ 8.
In March 2007, Jorgensen filed a lawsuit against Gallatin
County, including the Gallatin County Sheriff and Coroner,
which sought a reopening of the investigation into
Christopher's death to consider the additional
information gathered by Jorgensen, an order changing the
cause of Christopher's death from suicide to homicide,
and an award of damages to Jorgensen and Christopher's
Stubbs, an attorney, represented the Gallatin County
Defendants in Jorgensen I, which was heavily
litigated. Stubbs filed numerous pre-trial motions in limine
to exclude evidence at trial, including Jorgensen's
expert testimony, Jorgensen's non-expert opinion
testimony, and other irrelevant evidence. Then, during trial,
which was held in January 2010 and lasted nine days, Stubbs
moved for and obtained an order from the District Court
preventing A.G., who was subpoenaed by Jorgensen to testify,
from invoking her Fifth Amendment privilege in front of the
jury, on the ground that it would be prejudicial to Gallatin
County. The order was issued over Jorgensen's objection.
On January 21, 2010, the jury returned a verdict in favor of
the Gallatin County Defendants, specifically finding that
Christopher's death was a result of suicide.
Jorgensen I, ¶ 10. Jorgensen appealed, and on
June 28, 2011, this Court issued its opinion affirming the
verdict and judgment, concluding there was no reversible
error. Jorgensen I, ¶ 14.
In February 2014, Jorgensen filed an informal ethics
complaint against Stubbs with the Office of Disciplinary
Counsel (ODC). ODC dismissed the complaint and the dismissal
was upheld by the Commission on Practice, and by this Court,
upon requests for review by Jorgensen. Jorgensen was advised
on at least two occasions that all matters related to the
ethics proceeding were required to remain confidential.
In July 2016, Jorgensen filed the present action against
Stubbs. The complaint alleged that Stubbs was part of a
conspiracy "with State Officials at the highest
level" to keep evidence from the jury during the trial
in Jorgensen I, defrauding the court.
Jorgensen's complaint sought civil rights and criminal
investigations of Stubbs, disbarment of Stubbs, and payment
of $24 million in damages. In its summary judgment order, the
District Court noted that Jorgensen's complaint
"does not assert or identify any specific cause of
action," but asserted civil conspiracies, civil rights
violations, and violations of the Montana Rules of Civil
Procedure, the Montana Code of Ethics, and several Montana
Starting in September 2016, Stubbs filed motions seeking to
prohibit Jorgensen from introducing, in this proceeding,
evidence related to the ethics proceeding Jorgensen had
attempted to initiate against Stubbs, because the complaint
herein referenced claims Jorgensen had made in that
proceeding. The District Court granted Stubbs' motion in
limine, which Jorgensen challenged in a petition for writ of
supervisory control filed with this Court in February 2017.
We denied the writ, stating we were "not persuaded that
the District Court has committed a legal error to warrant
supervisory control," and that Jorgensen would have the
remedy of appeal following final judgment. Jorgensen v.
Mont. Eighteenth Judicial Dist. Court, No. OP 17-0114,
387 Mont. 537, 391 P.3d 733 (table) (March 7, 2017).
Stubbs moved the District Court for summary judgment on the
ground that all of Jorgensen's claims were time barred.
What followed was the filing of numerous motions and
responses regarding the evidence and arguments that were
properly before the court for purposes of the court's
consideration of summary judgment, concluding with the
District Court ...