Justia Communications Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court awarding attorney's fees to two media organizations after they secured for public release the names of three Billings police officers who were disciplined for having sexual relations with a city clerk, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in making a statutory award of fees. The Billings Gazette ran a story reporting that three City police officers had been suspended without pay for having sex on City property. Each of the three officers filed a separate motion for temporary restraining order (TRO) seeking protection of his identity. The district court issued the TROs. The media companies sought a declaration that the public's right to know clearly outweighed the alleged privacy interests the officers asserted and requested attorney's fees and costs pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. 2-3-221. The district court ordered release of the officers' identities and granted the media companies' request for fees and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed the award of attorney's fees, holding that the district court properly exercised its discretion in awarding fees and costs. View "City of Billings v. Billings Gazette" on Justia Law

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The Montana Public Service Commission, which requires that certain regulated telecommunications companies publicly disclose the salary information of their executive or managerial employees earning more than $100,000 per year, denied the motions for protective orders filed by Southern Montana Telephone Company and Lincoln Telephone Company to keep the salary information confidential. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Commission’s “rubric,” by which the Commission judged companies’ motions for protective orders of employee compensation information, constituted a de facto rule within the meaning of the Montana Administrative Procedure Act (MAPA) and that the Commission was obligated to comply with MAPA’s rulemaking procedures before implementing the rubric. View "Southern Montana Lincoln Telephone Co. v. Montana Public Service Commission" on Justia Law