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State supreme court cans Missoula court fee

Montana Supreme Court

The Montana State Supreme Court ordered a Missoula court to stop adding a special surcharge to what some people are paying in court fees.

The decision came after a woman appealed a $25 city fee applied to her disorderly conduct case. That surcharge was earmarked for the Missoula City Attorney’s office. But it wasn’t the only extra penalty.

Court papers detail another $85 of surcharges leveled against her. But the justices said state law allowed those fees. But when it came to the city’s special surcharge the justices said no way.

City Councilman Jesse Ramos said the ruling helps ensure the law is applied equally to all.

“Twenty five dollars isn’t a big deal if you make $100,000 a year. Twenty five dollars is maybe 10 to 15 minutes of your time when you are making $100,000 a year. But if you are a single mom working a minimum wage job to provide for her two or three kids because her husband was abusive, and she is trying to find a better life for her and her family? Then maybe $25 is four or five hours of her day after taxes if she's making $7 or $8 an hour,” Ramos said.

We asked and are still waiting to hear a response from the city. You can read the court decision here.

We’re told the attorneys who won that case are planning a class action suit against the city to get that $25 back for every person who paid it. We asked how much that could total. Sources told us it is close to $500,000.

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