Contempt of Court and Disobedient Jurors: Judge Gives Fiery Lecture on Importance of Legal System

Polson, Montana – Disregarding a court order and a lack of cooperation from jurors prompted Judge Molly Owen to deliver a stern lecture at Polson District Court on January 24th. Numerous individuals were summoned to appear before Judge Owen to explain why they had failed to fulfill their jury duty obligations for a trial scheduled on December 4, 2023. During the hearing, Owen emphasized the significance of jury trials, the crucial role of jurors, and the importance of the legal system.

Furthermore, Judge Owen expressed her dissatisfaction with the behaviors of Sunny Katherinne White, 29, and her attorney, Meghan Benson, for their failure to attend an omnibus hearing on Wednesday, January 24th. While Benson had submitted a motion to continue the hearing, she did so on the afternoon of January 23rd, which Judge Owen deemed insufficient notice given her court obligations in other jurisdictions. Judge Owen expressed her frustration with this last-minute notice.

Sunny Katherinne White is facing five felony charges, including accidents involving another person or deceased person, two counts of criminal child endangerment, and criminal possession of dangerous drugs. If convicted on all charges, White could face up to 65 years in prison. The charges stem from an incident on March 31, 2023, when White allegedly struck and killed Mika Westwolf on U.S. Highway 93 in the Arlee area. It is alleged that White continued driving northbound after the collision. Investigators were able to identify the 2008 Cadillac Escalade that White was driving as the vehicle involved in the incident.

Upon Benson’s request, Judge Owen granted a continuance for White’s omnibus hearing, rescheduling it for February 28th. White remains at liberty after paying a $200,000 bond.

The court proceedings were conducted remotely via the Zoom platform, which led Judge Owen to address the unauthorized recording and live streaming of court sessions, both of which contravened a court order.

Judge Owen’s stern lecture served as a reminder of the importance of complying with court orders and fulfilling civic duties, particularly when it comes to jury service. The rescheduling of White’s hearing provides extended time for her defense team to prepare their case, ensuring that justice is reached.