The Montana Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the appeal of former Florence doctor Chris Christensen. The 72-year-old former physician was charged in 2015 and, following a long jury trial, was convicted of two cases of negligent homicide and 20 counts of drug related charges having to do with opiod medications. He was sentenced to serve 20 years with ten suspended but remains free on bond pending resolution of his appeal.
Christensen is challenging the conviction, claiming that a medical doctor cannot be charged with a crime “while acting in the course of professional practice.”
Prosecutors claim that Christensen acted outside the course of a professional medical practitioner by “freely and liberally dispensing dangerous drugs to drug addicts resulting in the deaths of two patients.”
“Victim after victim testified about the ease with which Christensen gave them the drugs, often at their own choosing without Christensen performing even the customary basic tasks that would define his actions as being within the course of professional practice,” wrote the prosecutors.
Christensen has until March 5 to file a reply brief. The Justices, who have allowed Christensen five filing extensions so far in the appeal process, said they will grant no more extensions. Oral arguments have been set for April 3, at the George Dennison Theatre at the University of Montana in Missoula. There will be an introduction at 9 a.m. and arguments will begin at 9:30 a.m. The court said it would not entertain any requests for rescheduling.