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State v. Sliwinski

Supreme Court of Montana

December 18, 2018

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
THOMAS EMIL SLIWINSKI, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: November 28, 2018

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the First Judicial District, In and For the County of Lewis and Clark, Cause No. BDC 2016-53 Honorable Michael F. McMahon, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Colin M. Stephens, Smith & Stephens, P.C., Missoula, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Katie F. Schulz, Daniel Guzynski, Mary E. Cochenour, Assistant Attorneys General, Helena, Montana

          Leo J. Gallagher, Lewis & Clark County Attorney, Helena, Montana

          OPINION

          JIM RICE JUSTICE

         ¶1 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 Montana Reports.

         ¶2 Appellant Thomas Emil Sliwinski (Sliwinski) appeals his conviction of bail jumping, in violation of § 45-7-308, MCA, following jury trial in the First Judicial District, Lewis and Clark County.

         ¶3 Sliwinski was charged with bail jumping on September 9, 2004, after failing to appear for probation revocation proceedings on September 2, 2004, related to two previous felony convictions. Shortly after failing to appear, Sliwinski fled to Mexico and was not apprehended until 2015. Sliwinski was extradited to the United States, and ultimately to Montana, in January 2016 and was placed in custody in the Lewis and Clark County Detention Center. Sliwinski pled not guilty, and trial was held January 23-25, 2017.

         ¶4 Sliwinski filed a pre-trial motion in limine to exclude reference to his previous convictions. Specifically, Sliwinski sought to exclude:

[E]vidence of any other crimes, wrongs, or acts allegedly committed by Defendant, including but not limited to the following: any prior convictions, specifically his convictions in Lewis and Clark County ... the details of the allegations underlying those convictions, any reference to the Defendant's participation in any sex offender treatment and/or counseling, any other charges, arrests, citations, complaints, or convictions . . . and any references to the Defendant (1) having multiple wives; (2) being classified as a sexual offender; (3) being arrested and extradited back to Montana in 2015.

         The State agreed that the convictions and underlying details were inadmissible, but argued that Sliwinski's probation status in those cases was admissible as relevant to the fact that he had to be extradited back to Montana. The District Court granted the motion in part and denied in part.

         ¶5 At trial, the State called Robert Ryan (Ryan), a "bounty hunter" who worked for the company that provided Sliwinski bail in 2004, as a witness in its case-in-chief. Ryan testified about his attempts to locate Sliwinski. During questioning by the State about evidence that had been ...


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