Submitted on Briefs: December 4, 2019
FROM: District Court of the Fifteenth Judicial District, In
and For the County of Roosevelt, Cause No. DC 2017-11
Honorable David Cybulski, Presiding Judge
Appellant: John J. Ferguson, Ferguson Law Office, Missoula,
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, J. Stuart
Segrest, Chief, Civil Bureau, Helena, Montana Austin Knudsen,
Roosevelt County Attorney, Wolf Point, 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
Linda Lou Heidinger appeals the imposition of a fine and
several additional conditions of her sentence for negligent
homicide. We affirm the fine, reverse the challenged
conditions, and remand for entry of an amended judgment.
On January 10, 2017, Heidinger negligently passed a snowplow
while driving herself and two coworkers home. She collided
with an oncoming pickup truck, resulting in the death of one
of her passengers. Heidinger was not under the influence of
alcohol or any other substances on the day of the accident.
The State charged Heidinger with Negligent Homicide by
information on April 20, 2017. Heidinger later pleaded guilty
in the Fifteenth Judicial District Court, Roosevelt County.
Heidinger's presentence investigation report
("PSI") reported in part that Heidinger had no
prior criminal history or driving-related offenses; had a
monthly income of $2, 400 and no listed assets or debts; last
consumed alcohol in 2015; and had no history of alcohol or
substance abuse or a gambling addiction. The PSI further
concluded that Heidinger posed a minimal risk of reoffending.
After the District Court conducted a sentencing hearing, it
imposed a twenty-year suspended sentence and a $50, 000 fine.
The court also imposed 27 probation conditions. At issue
here, condition numbers 9, 10, 17, 18, and 26 prohibit
Heidinger from using or possessing alcohol and illegal drugs,
gambling, or entering bars and casinos, and require her
participation in a sobriety and drug monitoring program. Upon
pronouncement of the sentence, the court and Heidinger's
counsel engaged in the following exchange:
COURT: I'm going to fine her the $50, 000. . . . I
don't have any heartburn taking money from her. . . .
When I look at the probation conditions I know if you look at
the standards that the Supreme Court sets down, if there has
to be a nexus; I don't know that I can say she
shouldn't enter bars or casinos. I don't know that I
can do some of these other ones but I'm going to do them
anyway and if she wants to appeal. Because my rationalization
for staying out of the bars, staying out of the casino and
some of those other things is that she has a fine to pay; a
financial obligation and if she had money for the bars she
has money to pay. So, Ms. Thornton you see [anything] in
these probation conditions that are not appropriate that you
want to argue about?
MS. THORNTON: Well I'm not quite sure about the fine
thing but you're not imposing a fine on her?
COURT: Oh, I'm [imposing] a fine on her. . . . Otherwise
on the probation and condition?
MS. THORNTON: Are you saying you didn't find a nexus
between the no bars and ...