Justice Court

Name Title Phone Email
Leroy M. Not Afraid Justice of the Peace
Tammy Mendez Court Clerk III 406.665.9760 tmendez@mt.gov
Gabriela Salazar Court Clerk II 406.665.9760 gsalazar@mt.gov

The Justice Courtroom is in Room 214. Please check in with the clerks, at the Justice Court Office, at Room 210, before entering the Courtroom.

Information & Forms

Big Horn County Justice of the Peace Wedding Fee Schedule

Copy Costs & Record Searches

Instructions – Small Claims Actions

Hope Card Request Form

Order of Protection Packet

Fees

Appearance/Answer/Counter Claim $30.00
Civil Filing Fee $50.00
Civil Appeal $50.00
Judgement Fee $20.00
Small Claims Appearance Fee $20.00
Small Claims Filing Fee $30.00

To Make a Payment on a Citation or Time Pay

Online

Pay Online

By Mail

Mail a  cashier’s check or money order, with a copy of the citation to:

Big Horn County Justice Court
PO Box 908
Hardin, MT 59034

In Person

Big Horn County Courthouse
121 West 3rd Street, Room #210
Hardin, MT 59034

If you choose to pay at the office, please note we only accept cashier’s checks, money orders or cash. If you choose to pay with a Credit or Debit card you will need to pay online.

We DO NOT accept personal checks via mail or at the office.

FAQs

Small Claims

Can the court clerk help me fill out the forms?

No.

How long is my Writ of Execution good?

120 days.  Upon expiration, you may file a new extension.

When I file my complaint should I include the filing fee and service fee amount in my complaint?

If you win your case, your court costs will be included in the judgment.

How much do I have to pay when filing my first appearance in a complaint?

There is a $30.00 appearance fee per defendant required upon filing your first document in a case.

Do I need to respond to a counterclaim?

A written response to a counterclaim must be filed to prevent a default judgment on the counterclaim.

How long do I have to collect on a judgment?

Judgments are valid for 10 years from the date of issue.  If at the end of 10 years there is still a balance owing, you may file a new complaint for the balance.

Can the court assign me an attorney to help me?

No. There are no court appointed attorneys in civil actions.  If you qualify, you can contact MONTANA LEGAL SERVICES at www.MontanaLawHelp.Org or call the HELPLINE at 1-800-666-6899.

Once I get all of my money, what do I do?

If you had a judgment, you must file a Satisfaction of Judgment.  If you settled before you received a judgment, you must file a Notice of Dismissal with prejudice.  The original of these documents must be filed with the court, and you must send a copy to the other party by mail.

What happens after I file an answer?

The court will set the matter for trial.  Parties will be notified of the date by mail.  All parties are responsible for keeping the court informed of their up-to-date contact information.

Criminal & Traffic Cases

When can I see the judge?

Justice Court has appearances Monday thru Friday at 9:00 A.M.  The issuing agency will write an appearance date on your ticket 10 days from when you were issued the ticket.’

Once all walk in appearances are done, the court then begins arraignments for those in custody of the Big Horn County Detention Facility

We are closed on all major holidays.

What happens when I see the judge?

Some offenses are mandatory appearances before the judge.  The judge will ask you to enter a plea.  If you plead guilty, the judge will sentence you.  You must explain to the judge why you are guilty.  A guilty plea will not be accepted by the judge if your explanations do not support the guilty plea.

If you plead not guilty your case will be set for trial.  The judge will advise you of your hearing dates.  Non-Jury and jury trials are set about 4 months from your appearance.  A no contest plea can only be entered with approval of the prosecution and the judge.

What is the difference between a jury and a non-jury trial?

A jury trial in Justice Court consists of 6 residents of the county randomly selected.  All 6 jurors must agree if you are guilty or not guilty.  Upon conviction court may assess jury costs and witness fees.

A non-jury is before the judge.  The judge determines whether you are guilty or not guilty.

In both a jury and a non-jury trial, the verdict must be based upon a finding of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

What is an omnibus hearing?

A pretrial between the prosecutor and defendant to discuss and consider matters related to discovery of evidence procedure and pre-trial motions.  Settlement of the case can be considered by the parties at the omnibus hearing.

How do I get a public defender?

If the charge you are faced with meets certain criteria, you may be appointed a public defender by the Office of the State Public Defender.  When you appear in front of the judge and enter a not guilty plea, the judge will ask if you would like to apply for a public defender.

You may be required to pay for your representation by the public defender’s office.

Can I get my ticket deferred?

After the entry of a guilty plea or verdict, you may require a deferred sentence.  You cannot condition a guilty plea upon receiving a deferred sentence.  The granting of a deferred sentence is in the discretion of the judge.  The judge will take into consideration:  the offense you are charged with, driving history, whether or not the citation was the result of an accident involving damage to property or injury to person, whether you have received a deferred sentence in the past.  If you have a CDL (Commercial Driver License) a deferred sentence may not be granted.

How will this ticket affect my insurance?

Insurance companies have access to your driving record and make their own decisions on how traffic offenses will affect your rates.  We have no input or control on what insurance companies will do.

What is the ACT (aka PRIME FOR LIFE) program?

ACT stands for Assessment, Course, and Treatment.  It is a state approved program required by Montana law for those convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI or DUI per se).

How do I get a probationary driver’s license?

A first offense DUI or Per Se offender must have the approval of the court, be enrolled in ACT, and have a valid Montana driver license.  You are required to pay a $200.00 reinstatement fee to Records and Driver Control Bureau.

A person with 2 or more DUI offenses must wait 45/90 days respectively, have the court’s approval, and apply directly to the Records and Driver Control Bureau.  In addition to other strict conditions, the person is required to be in compliance the court order and complete alcohol and drug treatment.

Contact Records and Driver Bureau for more information.

Records and Driver Control Bureau
303 North Roberts
Helena, MT 59601
(406) 444-3289

My license is suspended.  Can I get a work permit?

A person who is suspended for failure to appear, failure to pay fines, or failure to comply with sentence is unable to get a work permit.  You will need to contact the court that requested your driving privileges be suspended.  If you aren’t sure, call 406-444-3289

Why did the judge suspend my driver’s license?

When the court sent a Fail to Pay, Fail to Appear, or Fail to Comply Notice for not making a payment on time, not appearing in court, or not complying with a requirement of your sentence, the notice warns of pending suspension if you do not pay your fine or see the judge by a prescribed date.  The warning states, “All delinquent payments (etc.) must be made immediately or a warrant of arrest may be issued and your driver’s license will be suspended.”  If you are suspended, you will be required to pay a $100.00 reinstatement fee to the Records and Driver Control Bureau before reinstatement.

Justice Court Contact Information:

Big Horn Country Justice Court

PO Box 908
Hardin, MT 59034

Civil Cases

Can the court clerk help me fill out the forms?

No.

How long is my Writ of Execution good?

120 days.  Upon expiration, you may file a new extension.

When I file my complaint should I include the filing fee and service fee amount in my complaint?

If you win your case, your court costs will be included in the judgment.

How much do I have to pay when filing my first appearance in a complaint?

There is a $30.00 appearance fee per defendant required upon filing your first document in a case.

Do I need to respond to a counterclaim?

A written response to a counterclaim must be filed to prevent a default judgment on the counterclaim.

How long do I have to collect on a judgment?

Judgments are valid for 10 years from the date of issue.  If at the end of 10 years there is still a balance owing, you may file a new complaint for the balance.

Can the court assign me an attorney to help me?

No.  There are no court appointed attorneys in civil actions.  If you qualify, you can contact MONTANA LEGAL SERVICES at www.MontanaLawHelp.Org or call the HELPLINE at 1-800-666-6899.

Once I get all of my money, what do I do?

If you had a judgment, you must file a Satisfaction of Judgment.  If you settled before you received a judgment, you must file a Notice of Dismissal with prejudice.  The original of these documents must be filed with the court, and you must send a copy to the other party by mail.

What happens after I file an answer?

The court will set the matter for trial.  Parties will be notified of the date by mail.  All parties are responsible for keeping the court informed of their up-to-date contact information.

Orders of Protection

Can I keep my address confidential?

Yes, except for the court and law enforcement.

Will I see the judge when I file?

The judge will review your petition.  The judge may require you to appear before granting a Temporary Order of Protection.  If granted, the judge will issue a Temporary Order of Protection, and a date will be set for a hearing on the petition within 20 days.  At the hearing, all parties will have an opportunity to be heard by the judge.  The judge may grant the petition of an Order of Protection for a specific time period or deny.

Can I file a petition for an Order of Protection to protect my property?

No.  However, an Order of Protection may contain a provision that your property can not be destroyed.

How much does an Order of Protection Cost?

There is no cost that you are required to pay.

When does my Temporary Order of Protection go into effect?

Immediately upon issuance.  The Temporary Order of Protection remains in effect until the hearing on the petition.

Landlord – Tenant Cases

There are so many variables in Landlord Tennant Cases – please seek legal assistance for your questions.  Contact MONTANA LEGAL SERVICES at www.MontanaLawHelp.Org or call the HELPLINE at 1-800-666-6899.

**While the Justice Court clerks are pleased to assist you in any way possible, please understand that we are unable to provide legal advice. If you need legal advice or have questions, please contact an attorney.**