Dale Schowengerdt is a partner in the firm’s Helena Office. Dale handles appellate and complex litigation in a broad variety of cases in state and federal courts. He is the former Solicitor General of Montana where he was lead counsel on cases that were of critical importance to the State, including all cases at the United States Supreme Court in which the State or one of its officers was a party. In that role, Dale successfully defended the State in Montana v. Betterman, a landmark Sixth Amendment case where the Supreme Court unanimously ruled for Montana. Dale’s briefing and argument in the case can be accessed here. Dale has also successfully litigated several precedent-setting cases in state and federal courts. He also serves as the State Chair for the ABA’s Council of Appellate Lawyers.

He is admitted to practice in Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, the United States Supreme Court, and several federal circuit and district courts.

Practice Areas

Bar Admission

State Courts:
North Dakota
Missouri (inactive)

Federal Courts:
United States Supreme Court
District of Montana
DC Court of Appeals
First Circuit Court of Appeals
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
Western District of Missouri
District of Arizona
Western District of Michigan
Eastern District of Michigan
Northern District of Indiana
Central District of Illinois


2003- J.D., Regent University School of Law
2000- B.A. English Literature and Political Science, Kansas State University

Reported Decisions / Cases

United States Supreme Court

Briefed and Argued:

Betterman v. Montana, 578 U.S. __, 136 S. Ct. 1609 (2016) Successfully defended Montana in a Sixth Amendment speedy trial challenge to post-conviction sentencing delay. The Court ruled for the State in a unanimous opinion.

Briefed Opposition to Petitions for Certiorari After Call for Response:

Behm v. Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., No. 19-197. Successfully defended exercise of eminent domain by Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. to install gas line for BNSF Railway Company (cert. denied November 18, 2019).

Montanans for Community Development v. Mangan, No. 18-377. Successfully defended against First Amendment challenge to State campaign finance disclosure laws (cert. denied February 19, 2019).

Lair v. Mangan, No. 18-149. Successfully defended against First Amendment challenge to candidate contribution limits. (cert. denied January 14, 2019).

Stone v. Montana, No. 17-670. Successfully defended against Double Jeopardy Clause challenge to prosecution on alternative charges after invalid guilty plea (cert. denied March 26, 2019).

Marble v. Poole, No. 17-671. Successfully defended against challenge to Ninth Circuit decision finding State hearing administrator entitled to qualified immunity (cert. denied April 23, 2018).

Theeler v. Montana, No. 16-8637. Successfully defended against Equal Protection challenge to severability of State criminal law (cert. denied October 2, 2017).

Ravalli County Republican Central Committee v. Stapleton, No. 16-806. Successfully defended against First Amendment challenge to Montana’s open primaries (cert. denied May 15, 2017).

Davis v. Montana, No. 16-123. Successfully defended against Due Process challenge to State law allowing nonlawyer judges in courts of record to preside over criminal defendant’s only trial for a minor jailable offense (cert. denied January 17, 2017).

Courts of Appeals
David Rentz, Jr. v. BNSF Railway Company, 2020 ND 254 (North Dakota 2020) (Briefed and Argued) Successfully reversed $11.3 million jury verdict and judgment against BNSF in a negligence case based on district court’s erroneous legal ruling.

BNSF Railway Company v. Asbestos Court, 220 MT 59, 459 P.3d 857 (Montana 2020) (Argued) In an issue of first impression, the Montana Supreme Court adopted the common carrier exception to strict liability in cases involving abnormally dangerous activity.

French v. Jones, et al., 876 F.3d 1228 (9th Cir. 2017) (Argued) Successfully defended Montana’s right to have non-partisan judicial elections. A unanimous Ninth Circuit panel ruled that Montana had a compelling state interest in prohibiting judicial candidates from seeking or using partisan endorsements, and that the restriction did not violate the First Amendment.

Bullock v. First Judicial District, OP 17-0021 (Montana Supreme Court February 1, 2017) Successfully argued that term of appointment for commissioner of political practices could not be extended beyond the appointment date.

Mount Hope Church v. Bash Back!, 705 F.3d 418 (9th Cir. Nov. 26, 2012) (Briefed and Argued) In a case of first impression, the Ninth Circuit reversed adverse decision against client and clarified the standards concerning non-party subpoenas under Fed. R. Civ. P. 45.

Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church of East Helena v. Unsworth, 556 F.3d 1021 (9th Cir. 2009) (Briefed and Argued) Successfully challenged Montana’s ballot election disclosure and registration requirements as applied to de minimis campaign expenditures by churches and community groups. The Harvard Law Review featured Canyon Ferry as a noteworthy case in its February 2010 issue. See Ninth Circuit Holds Montana Election Contribution Disclosure Requirements Unconstitutional as Applied to De Minimis Contributions, 123 Harv. L. Rev. 1043-50 (2010).

American Atheists, Inc. v. City of Detroit Downtown Development Authority, 567 F.3d 278 (6th Cir. 2009) (Briefed and Argued) Successfully defended a Detroit downtown revitalization initiative that gave matching government reimbursement grants to business owners, including churches, for exterior building improvements. The Court held that Detroit’s program did not violate the Michigan Constitution or the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.