©2015 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana
A small supportive group witnessed Judge Manley’s scheduling conference held today at the Lake County courtroom in the case FJBC v. State involving the constitutionality of the CSKT compact vote. The informality of this conference–no court reporter, nothing for reporters to gossip about–surprised many but was both historic and interesting.
Preliminary questions by the judge were designed to determine if this case was properly before the District court, that is, to determine the scope of the Flathead Joint Board of Control (FJBC) action. In the Judge C.B. McNeil Courtroom, Judge Manley was asking whether the case is narrow enough to not be overturned on appeal for failure to brief an issue. And whether the Water Court was eventually going to be the correct forum.
Counsel for the FJBC responded with confidence that the issue is a narrow legal issue of constitutionality of the CSKT Compact vote. The ‘evidence’ is the legislative record, including recorded hearings and floor sessions. The documents are the state’s own. The Montana Constitution stands as it’s own evidence. The very definition of a narrowly-tailored case. No expert or non-expert witnesses. No jury trial.
And to boot, the state and tribes can’t bring in all the compact propaganda and “data” to confuse the issue.
While Judge Manley appears to be able to make a decision on the preliminary injunction and possibly the vote issue together, and sooner rather than later, a time frame of 3-4 months was suggested with intermediate deadlines of 30 and 90 days.
We thank the FJBC and its attorneys for the courageous, correct, and constitutional legal action they have taken.