Davis v. Ramey

02/27/2018 DA 17-0300 Case Number: DA 17-0300 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF MONTANA 2018 MT 32 DALE J. DAVIS, VINCENT G. KEOGH, GARY HOUSMAN, TOM E. JENKIN, JOE E. ADAMS, Petitioners and Appellants, v. THE JEFFERSON COUNTY ELECTION OFFICE, BONNIE RAMEY, in her official capacity as Jefferson County Election Administrator, and LYNN NEMETH, Respondents and Appellees. APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, In and For the County of Jefferson, Cause No. DV 2016-53 Honorable Katherine Bidegaray, Presiding Judge COUNSEL OF RECORD: For Appellants: Edward J. Guza, E.J. Guza & Associates, PLC, Bozeman, Montana For Appellees: David L. Vicevich, Vicevich Law, Butte, Montana (Attorney for Lynn Nemeth) Steven C. Haddon, Jefferson County Attorney, Boulder, Montana (Attorney for Bonnie Ramey) Submitted on Briefs: January 10, 2018 Decided: February 27, 2018 Filed: __________________________________________ Clerk Justice Laurie McKinnon delivered the Opinion of the Court. ¶1 Dale J. Davis, Vincent G. Keogh, Gary Housman, Tom E. Jenkin, and Joe E. Adams appeal from orders of the Fifth Judicial District Court, Jefferson County, denying them attorney fees, costs, and disbursements. We affirm and restate the issues on appeal as: 1. Did the District Court err in concluding that the Elected Officers were not entitled to attorney fees from either Jefferson County or Nemeth under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act, § 27-8-313, MCA? 2. Did the District Court abuse its discretion in concluding that the Elected Officers were not entitled to attorney fees or costs from Jefferson County under § 25-10-711(1)(b), MCA? 3. Did the District Court err in concluding that the Elected Officers were not entitled to their costs from Nemeth under § 25-10-101(8), MCA? FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND ¶2 In April 2016, Davis was the mayor of Whitehall, Montana, and the Town Council consisted of six members, including Keogh, Housman, Jenkin, and Adams. The Town Council held a public meeting at which it discussed and voted on a matter relating to the town’s ambulance service. The matter was not listed on the meeting’s previously published agenda. The impromptu discussion and vote troubled Lynn Nemeth, a Whitehall resident and qualified elector, and she sought a recall election to determine whether Davis, Keogh, Housman, Jenkin, and Adams (together, the Elected Officers) should be recalled from their respective positions before the end of their terms. In Montana, the Montana Recall Act, §§ 2-16-601 to -635, MCA, governs recall elections and requires an elector seeking a recall election to produce a recall petition and a 2 circulation sheet for each elected officer she wishes to recall. To effectuate her desired recall election, Nemeth prepared five sets of documents seeking recall of the Elected Officers. Sections 2-16-616 and -617, MCA, provide suggested forms for recall petitions, which must contain a general statement of the reasons for seeking recall, and circulation sheets. The suggested forms are not mandatory and the documents are considered sufficient if they substantially follow the forms. Section 2-16-618, MCA. ¶3 Nemeth provided a sample of her recall petitions and circulation sheets ...

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