Submitted on Briefs: July 31, 2019
FROM: District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, In and
For the County of Cascade, Cause No. CDC-16-327 Honorable
John A. Kutzman, Presiding Judge
Appellant: William F. Hooks, Law Office of William F. Hooks,
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Michael
P. Dougherty, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana
Neil Anthon, Great Falls City Attorney, Great Falls, Montana
McGrath Chief Justice
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
Kenton Steven Monroe appeals an order from the Eighth
Judicial District Court, Cascade County, affirming his
conviction for criminal possession of drug paraphernalia in
the Great Falls Municipal Court. We affirm.
On November 7, 2015, Sergeant Jeff Bragg of the Great Falls
Police Department pulled over a vehicle driven by Brenda
Valerio. When Valerio explained to Bragg that she was taking
her passenger, Monroe, to the hospital because he was
suffering from a panic attack, Bragg requested medical
assistance. After evaluating Monroe's condition, the
paramedics determined he was not experiencing a panic attack
and it was unnecessary to transport Monroe to the emergency
room. Bragg testified that as he interacted with Monroe,
Monroe appeared jumpy, twitchy, irritable, and was speaking
rapidly. After Monroe was cleared by paramedics, Bragg
confirmed Monroe's identity with dispatch and discovered
Monroe had an outstanding arrest warrant. Monroe was placed
under arrest, and following a search incident to arrest,
officers found a capped syringe in Monroe's front coat
pocket. Bragg asked Monroe if there was a reason Monroe had
the syringe, but Monroe just shrugged and said
Monroe was subsequently charged with criminal possession of
drug paraphernalia in violation of § 45-10-103, MCA. On
May 27, 2016, a bench trial was held in Great Falls Municipal
Court and Monroe was convicted in absentia. On June 2, 2016,
Monroe appealed to the District Court, alleging that the
conviction was based on insufficient evidence. On April 6,
2018, the District Court denied Monroe's appeal and
affirmed his conviction. Monroe appeals.
"District courts serve as intermediate appellate courts
for cases tried in municipal courts." City of Helena
v. Grove, 2017 MT 111, ¶ 4, 387 Mont. 378, 394 P.3d
189. This Court reviews district court appellate decisions
under the applicable standard of review as if the defendant
originally appealed to this Court. City of Missoula v.
Shumway, 2019 MT 38, ¶ 8, 394 Mont. 302, 434 P.3d
We review questions concerning the sufficiency of the
evidence in a criminal matter to determine whether, after
reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the
prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the
essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
City of Helena v. Strobel, 2017 MT 55, ¶ 8, 387
Mont. 17, 390 P.3d 921. Whether sufficient evidence exists to
convict a defendant is ultimately an application of the law
to the facts and is therefore subject to de novo review.
Strobel, ¶ 8. "It remains the function of
the trier of fact to determine the credibility of the
witnesses and the weight to be given their testimony."
State v. Hudson, 2005 MT 142, ¶ 22, 327 Mont.
286, 114 P.3d 210. When the evidence conflicts, the trier of
fact determines which shall prevail. State v. Bower,
254 Mont. 1, 8, 833 P.2d 1106, 1111 (1992).
On appeal, Monroe maintains that the City failed to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that he "purposely or
knowingly" possessed drug paraphernalia with the intent
to use it to inject a dangerous drug, pursuant to §
45-10-103, MCA. Specifically, Monroe argues that: (1) the
Municipal Court's finding that the syringe was drug
paraphernalia is not supported by the facts or the applicable
statutes, §§ 45-10-101 and -102, MCA; and (2) the
City failed to prove Monroe had the requisite intent to use
the syringe to introduce a dangerous drug into his body.
Montana's Model Drug Paraphernalia Act states, "[I]t
is unlawful for a person to use or to possess with intent to
use drug paraphernalia to . . . inject . . . or otherwise
introduce into the human body a dangerous drug." Section
45-10-103, MCA. A violation of this section requires proof of
two elements: (1) possession of paraphernalia; and (2) intent
to use it. State v. Arthun, 274 Mont. 82, 90, 906
P.2d 216, 222 (1995).
Drug paraphernalia is defined as, "all equipment,
products, and materials of any kind that are used, intended
for use, or designed for use in . . . injecting . . . or
otherwise introducing into the human body a dangerous
drug." Section 45-10-101, MCA. The statute provides a
list of items that could be considered drug paraphernalia.
Section 45-10-101(1)(a)-(k), MCA. Although a syringe or
hypodermic needle is not listed in these subsections, the
statute expressly indicates that this list is nonexhaustive.
Section 45-10-101(1), MCA. In addition, § 45-10-102,
MCA, provides a list of factors that should be considered,
along with "all other logically relevant factors, "
in determining whether ...