Montana is the fourth largest state (225 miles by 650 miles), but one of the least populated with only 945,000 people. It is an eclectic state with the Great Plains located in the central/eastern part and divided by the spectacular Rocky Mountains in the west.
Known as the Big Sky Country, many refer to it as the Last Best Place. Its landscape invites tourists to hike thousands of acres of protected wilderness areas, visit the Crown Jewel of National Parks—Glacier Park—or hunt, fish, ride the rapids, play championship golf courses, lake kayak, or ski some of America’s best slopes.
While Montana can experience extreme temperature differences (highest was 117º and lowest was -70º), average temperatures range from 86.6 degrees to 8.1 degrees.
Some describe us as a populist state. We elected the first woman in the USA to Congress -- Jeannette Rankin, who voted against our entry into World Wars I and II. She was the first woman elected to a national legislature in any western democracy. We were one of the first states to give women voting rights. Senator Mike Mansfield served longer than anyone as the US Senate’s Majority Leader and then became Ambassador to Japan. We have rejected a sales tax several times, and, at one point, a highway speeding ticket was called an energy conservation violation and we paid the highway patrolman a $5.00 fine.
We have had both Democratic and Republican Congressmen and Governors. In 2007, Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer leads our state, and the House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans and the Senate by Democrats. Our legislature meets once every other year for 90 days.
Our two U.S. Senators are Max Baucus (Democrat and Chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee) and Jon Tester (Democrat), and our Representative is Dennis Rehberg (Republican).
Our leading industries are agriculture (wheat, barley, sugar beets, and oats), sheep and cattle ranching, lumber, and tourism. The medical and healthcare industry also plays a significant role in our economy.
Great Falls is home to Malmstrom Air Force Base which employs more than 4,000 people. The 341st Space Wing maintains and operates 200 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The base is also host to RED HORSE Squadron (over 400 personnel). This is a highly mobile, self-sustained civil engineering force. It has been deployed to special operations throughout the world.
The legal climate is difficult to define. Many consider our current Supreme Court (seven members) to be moderate, moving away from a liberal period in the late 1990s. Our State District Court judges, or trial judges (we do not have an intermediate appellate court), vary in background and philosophy. We elect our judges. Click here for information on our judges.
Montana allows claims for third-party bad faith insurance practices, both statutorily and under common law, and insurers and self-insured defendants can be assessed punitive damages. We do not have caps on compensatory damages except in a few circumstances such as medical malpractice and governmental liability.
Montana has very restrictive pro hac vice laws. Attorneys not licensed here must check with these rules carefully and be aware that different processes are used in state and federal courts in Montana.