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.

State v. Block

Supreme Court of Montana

August 6, 2019

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
JEREMY WILLIAM BLOCK, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: June 12, 2019

          District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, In and For the County of Cascade, Cause No. ADC 15-391 Honorable Gregory G. Pinski, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, James Reavis, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Jeffrey M. Doud, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana

          Joshua A. Racki, Cascade County Attorney, Susan L. Weber, Deputy County Attorney, Great Falls, Montana

          OPINION

          Jim Rice, Justice.

         ¶1 Jeremy William Block (Block) appeals his conviction of two counts of incest, in violation of § 45-5-507, MCA, following jury trial in the Eighth Judicial District Court, Cascade County. We affirm, and consider the following issue:

         Did the District Court abuse its discretion by denying Block's for-cause challenge of a prospective juror during voir dire?

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 On August 10, 2015, Block was charged with two counts of felony incest due to repeated sexual contact with his stepdaughter, K.O. K.O. was born in 1997 and is the daughter of Larah and Zach. Larah and Zach divorced in 2005 before K.O. turned nine. In May 2009, Larah met Block, when Block was 34 years old and K.O. was 11. In July or August 2009, Block moved into Larah's home, and the two were married in January 2010. When K.O. was 13 or 14 years old, Block began making sexual advances toward her and provided her with his prescription medications and alcohol. When K.O. was 14, Block raped her, and continued to sexually abuse her until she was 17. This abuse was so frequent that K.O. could not estimate the number of times it occurred. K.O. eventually became addicted to opioids and alcohol as a result of Block providing them to her. During this period of abuse, K.O. became very distanced from Zach and ceased visiting or communicating with him for years. K.O. testified that Block told her Zach and Larah did not care about K.O. and wanted nothing to do with her. K.O. moved in with her grandparents around April 2015, when she was 17, and told them that Block had been sexually abusing her, leading to the filing of charges.

         ¶3 Block pled not guilty to the incest charges and his case proceeded to trial on August 21, 2017. During voir dire, the prospective jurors were asked whether they knew the victim or any of her family members. Juror Stewart responded that he knew Zach, resulting in the following colloquy:

Juror Stewart: Zach []. If it's the same one that I'm thinking of, I-I know Zach [], but I don't know if it's the same one. Because if it is-their family is in-out in the audience here, and I knew him, you know. If it's the same Zach []. She's nodding it is. So I know them in the audience. I've known him since he was little, first born.
The State: Okay. What effect do you think that might have if he comes in and testifies for the State, you know?
Juror Stewart: I think I could be honest. But I just-I wasn't sure. I had to stop and think Zach []. And it is the same one I know.
The State: How do you know him?
Juror Stewart: I know his parents. And we've been friends for a long time. He grew up with my kids. They were born-you know, my kids and him, they were born at the same time. We did a lot of stuff together, you know, as families, church and camping, and all that kind of stuff so-
The State: Well, do you really think you can be fair? I mean-
Juror Stewart: With his parents and stuff, and watching, I don't know. It would be kind of hard, I think. I mean, just because of the relationship that we've had for quite a while.
The State: Right. And that's what we're trying to find out here, so we can deal with this up front, and not have to find ...

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.