Montana State Courts

Courts – State Courts – Montana

Highest Court

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court consists of 7 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Appellate jurisdiction in all cases.

General Courts

District Court (22)
The District Court consists of 42 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Civil actions over $50 and probate.(2) Felony and misdemeanors.(3) Juvenile.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Limited Courts

Justice Courts
The Justice Courts consists of  70 judges. it has jurisdiction over (1) Contact and damage actions under $7,000. (2) Assaults, thefts under $300, misdemeanors with fine less than $500 or imprisonment less than 6 months and preliminary hearings.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

City Court
The Justice Court consists of  78 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Contact and damage actions under $5,000. (2) Assaults, thefts under $300, misdemeanors with fine less that $500 or imprisonment less than 6 months, city or town ordinance violations, and preliminary hearings.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Municipal Court
The Municipal Court consists of  5 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1)Contract and damage actions under $5,000. (2) Assaults, thefts under $300, misdemeanors with fine less than $500 or imprisonment less than 6 months, and preliminary hearings
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Additional Information

Nonjudicial day
Court may not be open, nor may any judicial business be done on a legal holiday and on a day appointed by the President or the Governor of Montana as a public fast, thanksgiving, or holiday.  Exceptions are as follows: (a) to give, upon its request, instructions to a jury when deliberating on its verdict; (b) to receive a verdict or discharge a jury; (c) for the exercise of the powers of a magistrate in a criminal action or in a proceeding of a criminal nature. (2) Injunctions, writs of prohibition, and habeas corpus may be issued and served on any day. (Montana Code 3-1-302)

Sittings of court — when private
Cases involving dissolution of marriage, criminal conversation, or seduction may be held in private and exclude all  except the officers of the court, the parties, their witnesses, and counsel.  during the examination of a witness in ANY cause, the court may decide to exclude some or all of the other witnesses in the case.  (Montana Code 3-1-313).

Proceedings to be in English language
Every written proceeding in the court of justice and every judicial proceeding must be conducted, preserved, and published in the English language.  (Montana Code 3-1-314)

Procedure — contempt committed in presence of court
The judge of court or at chambers may punish summarily the person that causes the loss of order, dignity, or authority to the court.  An order listing what occurred in the judges view and presence, the judgment that said person is in contempt, and the form of punishment.  The order will not be given until the person has been informed of the contempt and given an chance to defend themselves.  A person that is judged guilty must may be fined for an amount not to exceed $500 or by imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, or both.  However, the court retains the power to set forth any reasonable conditions or restriction that may be appropriate for the circumstances.  must take immediate action to restore order, maintain dignity, or retain authority in the court. (Montana Code 3-1-511)

Procedure — contempt not in presence of the court
When the contempt is not committed in the immediate view and presence of the court or judge at chambers, an affidavit of the facts constituting the contempt or a statement of the facts by the referees or arbitrators or other judicial officer shall be presented to the court or judge. (Montana Code 3-1-512)

No judicial officer of court of record to have partner practicing law
A judicial office of a court of record may have a partner acting as an attorney or counsel in any court of Montana.  However, a municipal court judge or a judge pro tempore’s partner may act as an attorney or counsel in any court of Montana, just not the court of his/her partner. (Montana Code 3-1-603)

Justice of the peace or constable not to purchase judgment.
It is a misdemeanor for a justice of the peace or a the associated constable of the county to purchase or be interested in the purchase of any judgment or part thereof on the justice of the peace’s docket or any docket in his possession.  (Montana Code 3-1-606).

Forced vacancy.
If a a chief justice, associate justice, or district judge refuses to resign, the position automatically becomes vacant the the mentioned office lose rights, powers, and authority held by such position., notwithstanding the fact that a successor is not appointed or elected.  The vacancy becomes operative to deprive the person of the emoluments of the office in order to carry out the policy of this section and 3-1-607.   (Montana Code 3-1-608).


Inside Montana State Courts