Montana Code Annotated 2021



Part 1. Rules

Pretrial Conferences

Rule 14. Pretrial conferences.

A. OBJECTIVES. In any action, the court may, in its discretion, direct the parties' attorneys or the parties to appear before it for one or more conferences before trial for the following purposes:

(1) expediting the disposition of the action;

(2) establishing early and continuing control so that the case will not be delayed because of lack of management;

(3) discouraging wasteful pretrial activities;

(4) improving the quality of the trial with more thorough preparation; and

(5) facilitating the settlement of the case. All pretrial scheduling shall be the duty of the judge.

B. SUBJECTS TO BE DISCUSSED AT PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES. The participants at any conference under this rule may consider and take action with respect to:

(1) the formulation and simplification of the issues, including the elimination of frivolous claims or defenses;

(2) the necessity or desirability of amendments to the pleadings;

(3) the possibility of obtaining admissions of fact and of documents which will avoid unnecessary proof, stipulations regarding the authentication of documents, and advance rulings from the court on the admissibility of evidence;

(4) the avoidance of unnecessary proof and of cumulative evidence;

(5) the identification of witnesses and documents, the need and schedule for filing and exchanging pretrial briefs, and the date or dates for further conferences and for trial;

(6) the possibility of settlement;

(7) the form and substance of the pretrial order;

(8) the disposition of pending motions;

(9) the time for submission of proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law in a non-jury action, or proposed instructions to the jury and form of verdict in a jury action, and such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the action.

Each party or an attorney for each party participating in any conference before trial must have authority to enter into stipulations and to make admissions regarding all matters that the participants may reasonably anticipate may be discussed. After any conference held pursuant to this rule, an order must be entered reciting the action taken. This order shall control the subsequent course of the action unless modified by a subsequent order.

C. SANCTIONS. If a party or a party's attorney fails to obey a pretrial order, if no appearance is made on behalf of a party at the pretrial conference, if a party or a party's attorney is substantially unprepared to participate in the conference, or if a party or a party's attorney fails to participate in good faith, the judge, upon the judge's own motion, may make orders as are just and may deal with the offending party pursuant to Title 3, chapter 10, part 4. In lieu of or in addition to any other sanction, the judge may require the party or the party's attorney, or both, to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney fees, incurred because of any noncompliance with this rule unless the judge finds that the noncompliance was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.

History: En. Sup. Ct. Ord. February 9, 1990, eff. June 1, 1990; amd. Sup. Ct. Ord. June 24, 1997, eff. Oct. 1, 1997.