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Appeal of City Judge's Ruling Still Not Settled

29 December 2004

HELENA, Montana -- As reported by the Independent Record: "For now, smokers can still light up in Helena's bars and casinos that choose to allow them to.

"Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling will have no immediate effect on Helena's ordinance, which has been on the shelf since December 2002, according to City Attorney David Nielsen.

"Helena's comprehensive smoking ordinance, approved by voters in June 2002, was ruled unconstitutional by City Court Judge Myron Pitch six months later, on grounds that it didn't provide for a jury trial of those ticketed for violations. His ruling was in response to tickets written at the Montana Nugget Casino on Euclid.

"The city appealed that ruling in the District Court of Judge Thomas Honzel, who was briefed and heard arguments in early 2003. Honzel hasn't ruled on the appeal (or a motion to dismiss the appeal), waiting out the Supreme Court's decision.

"...The other court case still flickering involves the claim of a number of casinos that the city's ordinance represented a taking of private property in the form of reduced gambling revenue..."

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