The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Ledger Publisher 

Supreme Court rules against appeal


The Montana Supreme Court issued an opinion last week ruling against an appeal involving an unsuccessful 2016 recall petition in the Town of Whitehall.

The court affirmed a Fifth Judicial Court order denying the payment of attorney fees, costs, and disbursements for former Mayor Dale Davis and four town council members. The five elected officials were seeking reimbursements from Jefferson County Election Administrator Bonnie Ramey and recall petitioner Lynn Nemeth.

Court documents from the Supreme Court decision state the Fifth District Court correctly interpreted the law to establish the Elected Officers were not entitled to attorney fees and costs.

Nemeth originally filed her recall petition following an April 2016 meeting of the Whitehall Town Council. The Jefferson County Election Office, after consulting a deputy county attorney from Lewis and Clark County who aided in in the decision to determine the petitions were sufficient. After verifying her signatures, Jefferson County would notify Davis, and Council members Tom Jenkin, Vincent Keogh, Gary Housman, and Tom Jenkin a recall election would occur.

The five officers would object to the election, “based, in part, on their observations that Nemeth’s recall petitions and circulation sheets did not substantially conform to the statutory forms.”

Judge Katherine Bidegaray would later rule that that recall petitions did not substantially conform to statutory forms, and grated a petition from the Elected Officer’s for injunctive relief and declaratory judgment.

The Fifth District Court ruled the officers were not entitled to attorney fees or costs.

“The court issued two orders denying the Elected Officers’ request. One order denied attorney fees for ‘the reasons Ramey and Nemeth argue.” The other denied costs and disbursements for “the reason argued in Nemeth’s Answer Brief that there is no legal basis for taxing costs against Nemeth,” states the February 27, 2018 court decision.


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