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Kalispell v. Miller

Montana Supreme Court
230 P.3d 792 (2010)


Facts

Molly Miller (defendant) was charged with obstructing a peace officer. Miller was a probation officer and a parole officer as well as a lesbian, and she was drinking with her girlfriend, Benware, and one of Benware’s coworkers, Amanda Dumke, at a bar in Kalispell, Montana. After Benware had several drinks, Benware threw a beer bottle at Miller and was kicked out of the bar. Dumke and Miller remained at the bar, but as the night continued, Dumke became concerned about Benware and called to check on her. After talking to Benware, Dumke called the Kalispell Police Department, asking them to check on Benware because Benware was upset and playing with her gun. Miller then became concerned that such a call would jeopardize Benware’s job, so Miller called the police back and told them that she was Benware’s probation officer, that Benware was with her, and that Dumke’s phone call was a prank. The police had already gone to Benware’s home and found her not home. Benware had left her house and gotten into a car accident 12 minutes before Miller called the police to tell them that Benware was with her, making it impossible that Benware was with Miller at the time of the call. During her trial, Miller objected to evidence of the nature of her relationship with Benware, arguing that their homosexuality would unfairly prejudice the jury. Miller proposed that she and Benware be characterized as close friends instead. The court allowed the testimony based on the prosecution’s argument that it explained Miller’s motive for choosing to lie on Benware’s behalf. Miller appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cotter, J.)

Dissent (Morris, J.)

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