October 24, 2007
A Bridge In Madison County
The County Attorney for Madison County Montana received a complaint that an individual had violated the Montana Streambed Preservation Act by placing a log over a creek in order in begin a bridge project. The county attorney filed a misdemeanor complaint but moved to dismiss because he was "not confident there was a violation...beyond a reasonable doubt" in light of the report of an expert hired by the state. He also referred a complaint that the same person had stalked a local public defender to the state attorney general's office, which prosecuted the case resulting in a not guilty verdict.
The individual then sued the county attorney for malicious prosecution and other causes of action. The case was dismissed with prejudice. The Montana Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal, concluding that "summary judgment on the basis of absolute prosecutorial immunity was appropriate." The county attorney had "properly exercised discretion, both in filing the complaint and in subsequently dismissing it when faced with the State's experts' equivocation." The stalking case was properly referred to the state attorney general because the county attorney had worked with the public defender, thus creating a conflict of interest.
If this is made into a movie, I assume that Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep will pass on the lead roles.(Mike Frisch)
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