Monday, April 20, 2009

Rural Law Symposium at University of Montana School of Law

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of participating in the Montana Law Review's 2009 symposium on Rural Law. In addition to presenting my paper about constitutional issues raised by child poverty and spatial inequality in Montana, I had the pleasure of attending the mid-week event called, "True Tales: Practicing Law in Rural Montana." This panel featured one district court (trial) judge, Judge John McKeon from Havre, Montana (population 9,621), in the northeast part of the state, along with the county attorneys (state prosecutor) from Glacier and Lincoln counties, also on the Canadian border. In addition, rural practitioners from Cut Bank (Glacier County, population 13,247) and Plentywood (Sheridan County, population 4,105) spoke of their experiences, as did a Missoula attorney who often deals in Indian law matters. Each panelist has been asked to say how many miles s/he had traveled to participate in the symposium in Missoula, and I believe the Plentywood attorney got the "farthest traveled award," having come almost 600 miles. It was a terrific illustration of the spatial challenges to administration of justice in the 3d least densely populated state in the union. Only Alaska and Wyoming have more sparse populations than Montana's six persons per square mile. Other legal topics the panelists touched on were the ethics issues raised by lack of anonymity in rural communities (including its impact on criminal justice administration and jury selection), the spatial and resource challenges facing law enforcement officials, and tribal jurisdiction.

One highlight of the event for me was meeting two of the drafters of the 1972 Montana Constitution, which I discuss in my forthcoming article. The three of us are pictured above.


Slice of Pink said...

Sounds like a great time! Love the photo! =)

Yooli said...

Maybe that's why you can drive at terribly high speeds in Montana. My cattleman/lobbyist friend who lives there says he gets passed on the roads in for going 85 mph!