Justice Court

HONORABLE RICK SCHOENING

LAKE COUNTY JUSTICE OF THE PEACE/JUDGE


Justice Court is the judicial branch of county government responsible for processing misdemeanor criminal offenses, traffic offenses and Fish and Game violations occurring in Lake County. It is also the court where most people arrested for felony offenses have their initial appearance before a judge and have bail set.  Justice Court also handles civil cases, landlord/tenant issues and Orders of Protection.


JUSTICE COURT:

  • Conducts Jury and Bench trials in both criminal and civil cases.
  • Issues Search Warrants and Arrest Warrants.
  • Provides initial appearance to persons arrested on warrants from outside of Lake County and to persons arrested for probation and parole violations.
  • Handles civil lawsuits not to exceed $15,000.
  • Hears landlord/tenant disputes, local ordinances, forcible entry, and unlawful detainer as well as certain issues involving juveniles.

JUSTICE COURT CAN:

  • Provide instructions and forms for the filing of Civil Lawsuits, Temporary Orders of Protection, etc.
  • Provide resources, phone numbers or websites for other processes such as: free legal help, a guide to help you represent yourself at a trial without the aid of an attorney, etc.

JUSTICE COURT CANNOT:

  • Give legal advice
  • Recommend a process server for you
  • Fill out forms provided to you by the court 
  • Settle disputes concerning the ownership of real property
  • Help repossess vehicles or other items
  • Do any investigation concerning where a debtor may have assets

Justice Court DOES NOT have jurisdiction over cases involving the title or possession of real estate, family law or child custody issues. 

JUSTICE COURT RULES:


Procedure in Justice Court is governed by the “Montana Justice and City Court Rules of Civil Procedure” and the “Montana Uniform Rules for Justice and City Courts” as written in the Montana Code Annotated.  Failure to follow the court rules may result in the failure to properly prosecute or defend an action in Justice Court. 


TEMPORARY ORDERS OF PROTECTION:

  • Can only be issued to persons who qualify under 40-15-102 MCA40-15-201 MCA
  • To be issued a Temporary Order of Protection from the court, you will be required to file a sworn written affidavit (application) with a statement that describes very specifically the threat posed to your physical safety by the other party and explain why you need the immediate protection of the court.
  • The Judge will read your affidavit/application and if it meets the statutory requirements, will likely speak with you about the situation and then grant the Temporary Order of which you will be provided with a copy of.
  • The Sheriff’s Office will then serve a copy of your written affidavit and the Temporary Order of Protection on the other party (Respondent).
  • A Court Hearing will be held within 20 days. Your appearance at that Hearing is MANDATORY.  At the Hearing, both parties will be sworn under oath and the Judge will listen to argument from both sides before deciding whether to extend the Temporary Order of Protection or to terminate the Order.

While it is recommended that you seek legal counsel, an attorney is not necessary for you to pursue or defend against any civil or criminal action in Justice Court.  If you feel you need an attorney, you have a legal right to obtain one at any time during the proceedings. 

While the Justice Court clerks listed below are pleased to assist you, please remember that we cannot provide legal advice. If you need legal advice or have questions, please contact an attorney. 


NameTitle 
Phone
Email
Joyce CombsJustice Court Clerk(406)883-7336joyce.combs@mt.gov
Cindi GuthJustice Court Clerk
(406)883-7258cindi.guth@mt.gov
Hailey BrooksJustice Court Clerk
(406)883-7260hailey.brooks@mt.gov
Aubrey Undem Justice Court Clerk
(406)883-7259aubrey.undem@mt.gov

  

For more information about procedures, forms and information please go to this link below .

General Public (mt.gov)