James C. Nelson

James C. Nelson

James C. Nelson is a retired lawyer and former Montana Supreme Court Justice. He lives in Helena.


What was Knudsen’s office trying to hide in the Smith restaurant assault case?

By: - December 18, 2021

Even after sentencing, the Rodney Robert Smith case doesn’t pass the smell test. There isn’t room to repeat the details of the case here. Holly K. Michels for the Independent Record and KXLH’s Mike Dennison have done a thorough job of reporting the facts surrounding the case and Smith’s sentencing hearing on Dec. 9, before […]


Women: Collateral damage in the abortion war

By: - December 8, 2021

On Dec. 1, The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in the Mississippi abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. We likely won’t know the result of the court’s decision until sometime early next summer. But from the Justices questions and comments during the argument, it appears that the court will, basically, gut Roe […]


There’s precedent for that

By: - November 8, 2021

Lawyers know about precedent–defined as, something that precedes or comes before. For example, a court decision that serves as authority for deciding subsequent cases involving similar facts or legal issues, or other precedents which serve as guides for administrative conduct and decisions. Precedents provide consistency; they are the rules of the rule of law. That […]


The ball is in your court, Mr. Knudsen

By: - November 6, 2021

Jim Edwards’ commentary in The Daily Montanan on Nov. 2, raises some important questions about the incident involving St. Peter’s hospital health care providers being allegedly threatened by three public officials for their refusal to provide horse wormer as a Covid treatment to an 80-year-old Covid patient—who just happened to be on the “A list” […]


Democracy in three different Montana newspapers

By: - October 12, 2021

First, where I’m coming from: Donald Trump labeled the press “the enemy of the people.”  That was to be expected because authoritarians always demonize and take control of or outright destroy the press. Indeed, the right to publish is typically the first casualty of a fascist regime; the first victim when democracy dies. Those of […]


For Montanans, privacy is power

By: - September 8, 2021

Texas’ new anti-abortion law is one of the most restrictive in the developed world. But no surprise that the brouhaha over women’s right to abortion services has nothing to do with honoring their personal autonomy and little to do with fetal mortality. Rather, the fight is grounded in partisan politics. Historian Heather Cox Richardson provides […]


Montana still hasn’t learned anything from its history

By: - August 29, 2021

The Preamble to our State’s Constitution speaks to the importance of Montana’s quiet beauty, the grandeur of our Mountains, and the vastness of our rolling plains as underpinning our desire to improve our quality of life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future generations. In fulfillment of that […]


Montana’s Constitution means that no one can interfere with your right to vote

By: - July 11, 2021

In its 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder and in its July 1, 2021 decision in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the United States Supreme Court made clear that it will not interfere with States which adopt laws to suppress voting rights and which make it harder for minority people to vote. Sadly, it […]


Montana’s franchise under attack

By: - June 27, 2021

The right to vote is a fundamental right under Montana’s Constitution. Article II, Sec. 13 provides: “All elections shall be free and open, and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.” To understand how this fundamental Constitutional right is at risk, to […]


Slouching toward fascism

By: - May 26, 2021

Dr. David James’ recent guest view comparing our modern political times with those of pre-war Germany and the rise of Hitler and Nazism was point-on.  When lies trump truth; when fiction trumps fact; and when fantasy trumps reality, we are, indeed, circling the drain into fascism. The Jan. 6 attempted putsch of our national government […]