A tip of the hat and a trip to jail

Man jailed after meth syringe allegedly falls out of hat in the courtroom
Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, August 15, 2019
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Yellowstone County Detention Facility photo

Joshua N. Norton allegedly tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine.

A convicted felon who was supposed to be sentenced last week for failing to register as a violent offender was taken away in handcuffs for allegedly walking into court under the influence of methamphetamine.

When Joshua H. Norton arrived at the 22nd Judicial District Court in Columbus on Aug. 8, Stillwater County Undersheriff Randy Smith reportedly saw a syringe fall out of Norton’s hat out when he told him to remove the cap, said Smith. Norton, 39, was escorted to another location in the courthouse, where he allegedly tested positive for meth, said Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde. A subsequent report filed by Norton’s Yellowstone County probation officer states that he also tested positive for amphetamines on that day.

Because Norton was allegedly under the influence of a drug, the sentencing hearing did not take place. Judge Matt Wald did take a moment to note that Norton had been facing a “non-custodial disposition” prior to last week’s events, meaning he had not been facing a jail term. However, that changed almost immediately.

In addition to Thursday’s alleged drug activity, Rohde said Norton has still not registered as a violent offender. State law mandates that Norton be listed on the Montana Sexual Violent Offender Registry (SVOR) due to his 2017 felony conviction of strangulation of a partner/family member in Yellowstone County. Because he lives in the Columbus area, he is required to also register with local authorities, who work with the Montana SVOR.

Based on those factors, Rohde successfully sought — and was granted — a $50,000 bond amount.

A woman who had been sitting with Norton during court wept during the hearing and as she left the courtroom, said “we are homeless, you don’t understand how hard it is.”

Norton’s Yellowstone County probation officer has also filed a report of revocation in which he states that prior to last week’s hearing, Norton was considered to be an absconder from probation, who had moved without permission to Belfry and failed to register as a violent offender in Yellowstone County as well.

As of Wednesday, Aug. 14, Norton remained in the Yellowstone County Detention Facility.