Billings, MT -

A visiting District Court judge in Billings declined a request to uphold in Yellowstone County a northwestern Montana judge's ruling that fees charged by the state's 24/7 Sobriety Program are unconstitutional because they amount to pretrial punishment.

The Feb. 5 ruling by District Judge James Wheelis of Libby made news earlier this week. It applies only in Lincoln County.

The Billings Gazette reports attorney Jock B. West of Billings on Thursday asked District Judge James Spaulding of Roundup to uphold Wheelis' ruling in Yellowstone County. West's client was in court on allegations that he violated the terms of his pre-trial release, which include participating in the 24/7 program.

Spaulding told West it would be more appropriate for the presiding judge, District Judge Mary Jane Knisely, to make any ruling on the 24/7 program.