Lair et al v. Motl et al
ORDER denying 102 Motion for Summary Judgment; finding as moot 108 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply ; finding as moot 111 Motion to Amend/Correct Signed by Judge Charles C. Lovell on 6/29/2012. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Exhibit B) (DED, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MONTANA
"ATRICK E. DUFFY. CLE"'·'.
DOUG LAIR, STEVE DOGIAKOS,
TRADITION PARTNERSHIP PAC,
MONT ANA RIGHT TO LIFE
ASSOCIATION PAC, SWEET GRASS
COUNCIL FOR COMMUNITY
INTEGRITY, LAKE COUNTY
COUNTY REPUBLICAN CENTRAL
COMMITTEE, JAKE OIL LLC, JL
OIL LLC, CHAMPION PAINTING INC,
and JOHN MILANOVICH,
JAMES MURRY, in his official capacity )
as Commissioner of Political Practices;
STEVE BULLOCK, in his official capacity )
as Attorney General of the State of
Montana; and LEO GALLAGHER, in his )
official capacity as Lewis and Clark
On June 20, 2012, the defendants--without leave of the Court-moved for
summary judgment on the plaintiffs' claims concerning Montana's contribution
limits for elections. See Mont. Code Ann. § 13-37-216(1), (3), (5). Defendants'
filing was accompanied by 217 exhibits, all of this while plaintiffs were
proceeding with ongoing discovery for trial. The plaintiffs argue that these
contribution limits are unconstitutional under the First Amendment. In this new
motion for summary judgment, the defendants ask the Court to summarily rule that
the limits are, instead, constitutional. The defendants' motion is improper and
Here, the Court-by agreement and stipulation of the parties-ordered that
the plaintiffs' claims regarding Montana's contribution limits were inherently
factual questions not subject to summary judgment. The Court and the parties
therefore concluded that those claims could be resolved only by a bench trial. The
Court and the parties have since relied on that conclusion as they have proceeded
in this case.
On February 24,2012, the Court granted in part and denied in part the
plaintiffs' application for a preliminary injunction. After issuing that order, the
Court held a status conference on March 9, 2012, to set a schedule for the
remaining proceedings. The transcript of that hearing is attached as Exhibit A. The
plaintiffs were represented by James Brown, and the defendants were represented
by Michael Black and Andrew Huff.
Two things were made abundantly clear at the status hearing: (1) The claims
regarding contribution limits would not be resolved by summary judgment and
would instead be resolved only by a bench trial and (2) all other claims were
subject to summary adjudication. The Court and the parties discussed these points
at length throughout the hearing.
The Court first asked:
Now, recognizing that the rules would provide greater time latitude for
the parties, we are at this point and query: To what extent can the issues
be streamlined; can the case be put in a position by both sides and by the
court for resolution, comfortable period of time prior to the primary
(Doc. 107 at 4). The parties both agreed that all of the issues except those related
to contribution limits would be resolved by summary judgment. By doing so and
expediting the trial for the contribution-limit claims, the Court and the parties
agreed that the claims related to the contribution limits could be resolved prior to
when the 2013 Montana Legislature convenes and that all other claims could be
resolved prior to the 2012 primary election.
Initially, the Court suggested an early schedule that would have allowed all
issues-including those related to contribution limits-to be resolved before the
primary election. (Doc. 107 at 4.) The plaintiffs, however, suggested that they
would not be able to marshal their discovery by that time. (Doc. 107 at 5.) They
agreed with the defendants that they would be better suited with a trial on the
contribution-limits claims in late summer or early fall, in advance of the 2013
Montana Legislature convening. (Doc. 107 at 5-6, 18-19.)
Based on these representations, the Court reiterated its plan to the
parties-that is to have a trial for the contribution-limits claims and to resolve the
remaining claims by summary judgment. When the Court asked the parties about
this plan, they stated:
MR. BROWN: I believe Your Honor is absolutely correct. I believe that
all counts ofthe plaintiffs' complaint, except for the contribution limits,
can probably be resolved as a matter oflaw on the pleadings at summary
judgment, but that for trial, it will be necessary to hold a trial on the
contribution limits and their constitutionality.
MR. BLACK: I think it is likely that a lot ofthe legal issues, other than
the contribution limits, will be susceptible to summary judgment. But I
do not believe that the contributions limits issues will be.
(Doc. 107 at 7.) The parties then reiterated this sentiment several times throughout
MR. BLACK: ... [C]ertainly, the contribution limits, that's going to be
a fact-intensive inquiry that will need a fully developed record. And I
just can't see that being subject to summary adjudication.
(Doc. 107 at 8.)
MR. BROWN: ... [TJhe only questions of fact left are as to the
constitutionality of Montana's contribution limits.
(Doc. 107 at 10.)
The Court took the parties at their word. Based on their representations, the
Court ordered that contribution-limits claims would not be resolved by summary
judgment and would, instead, be resolved only through a bench trial:
THE COURT: All right. Both of you, then, agree that the contribution
issue has to be tried.
(Doc. 107 at 8.)
For good measure, the Court asked:
Can we not stipulate that we're going to have a trial on the contribution
issues, and the others are going to be resolved by summary judgment .
(Doc. 107 at 15.) The parties responded:
Mr. BLACK: ... [A]s to the issues, other than the contribution limits,
I believe that will be susceptible to summary adjudication.
MR. BROWN: It's my suggestion, your Honor, that plaintiffs are
prepared to dispose ofevery issue except for the contribution limits by
(Doc. 107 at 17-18.)
The Court then ruled that the claims related to contribution limits would be
set for a bench trial and would not be resolved by summary judgment:
MR. BLACK: ... Your Honor, I would be prepared to so stipulate as to
the issues other than contribution limits.
TIIE COURT: No. We can't---contribution limits here are going to
resolve-require resolution by trial.
MR. BLACK: Absolutely.
THE COURT: And that's the court's ruling today.
(Doc. 107 at 18.)
After a brief recess to discuss other matters, the parties again represented to
the Court that they stipulated to a trial on the contribution-limits claims:
MR. BROWN: ... We would again propose that the trial on that portion
[the contribution limits] be held in August.
(Doc. 107 at 22.)
The Court then issued a scheduling order (attached as Exhibit B) making
clear in the first paragraph that it would hold a bench trial to adjudicate the
The Court will hold a bench trial to adjudicate the plaintiffs' claim that
the monetary limits in Montana Code Annotated § 13-37-216(1), (3),
(5) are unconstitutional. All other matters shall be adjudicated by
(Doc. 73 at 2.)
The Ninth Circuit has long held that district courts have broad discretion to
control the pretrial phase of litigation: "A district judge is given broad discretion
in supervising the pre-trial phase of litigation, with a view toward sifting the
issues in order that the suit will go to trial only on questions involving honest
disputes of fact or law." Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Glickman, 450 F.2d 416, 419
(9th Cir. 1971); see also Morris v. Slappy, 461 U.S. 1, 11 (1983 ) (observing that
district courts "necessarily require a great deal of latitude in scheduling trials");
United States v. Garrett, 179 F.3d 1143, 1144 (9th Cir. 1999) (en bane) (observing
that district courts have broad discretion in the management and scheduling of
Even assuming it is appropriate for the defendants to file a motion for
summary judgment, they have missed the deadline by more than two months. In
the scheduling order, the Court ordered that the deadline for motions for summary
judgment was April 13, 2012, and that the parties would be heard on their motions
on May 2, 2012. (Doc. 73 at 2.)
In short, the defendants' motion for summary judgment is improper and
untimely. The Court agreed to expedite the schedule for this case in order to
resolve the contribution-limits claims as early as possible prior to when the 2013
Montana Legislature convenes and to resolve all other matters by summary
adjudication prior to the 2012 primary election (which it did). This expedited
schedule was contingent on resolving the contribution-limits claims by trial and
not summary adjudication. The March 9, 2012, hearing made that contingency
clear, and the subsequent scheduling order made that contingency clear. Even
assuming the defendants' motion is proper, it is untimely by more than two
months. The Court cannot permit the defendants to change the rules in the middle
of the stream. For these reasons, the Court denies the defendants' motion for
IT IS ORDERED that the defendants' motion for summary judgment (doc.
102) is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiffs' motions to extend the
deadline for responding to the defendants' motion for summary judgment (doc.
108, 111) are DENIED AS MOOT .
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?