The Attorney General’s Office, headed by Attorney General Tim Fox, and the Legal Services Division function as the lawyers for the State of Montana. The attorneys in the Office have expertise in a wide range of legal topics and handle a broad range of legal cases involving the State of Montana and its people.
These attorneys represent state agencies in lawsuits, represent Montana’s interests in complex civil cases where the state is a party, and prosecute criminals throughout the state to assist local county attorneys – particularly in complex cases or homicide cases. Some attorneys have special expertise in certain areas, like the death penalty, Internet crime against children or Montana’s laws protecting consumers and small businesses. Attorneys in the Office also provide legal assistance to state and local government on matters involving American Indian jurisdiction and federal reserved water rights. Others review – and in some cases, defend – constitutional challenges filed against state laws. Finally, lawyers in the Office provide legal services to the eight other divisions of the Montana Department of Justice.
Montana law holds that the attorney general may issue formal opinions in certain situations. Opinions issued by the attorney general hold the force of law unless overturned by a district court. Opinions are researched and written by assistant attorneys general for final approval by the attorney general. You can find an archive of attorney general opinions and attorney general letters of advice to the right of this page.
More about the work of these attorneys and how to contact the various legal bureaus in this division can also be found on this page. Montana law dictates the duties of the attorney general and his or her legal staff. That law stipulates certain things the attorney general may not do. He or she:
With the exception of the Agency Legal Services Bureau and regional Child Protection Unit offices, all Legal Services offices are located at the following address:
The Agency Legal Services Bureau provides legal counsel to state government officials and state agencies. Attorneys in the bureau represent other state agencies in civil actions ranging from liability lawsuits to personnel issues.
The division’s Appellate Services Bureau handles appeals of criminal matters, including death penalty cases, and represents the state in federal court when constitutional challenges are made to a criminal conviction.
This bureau assists local county attorneys by providing training and by assisting in the prosecution of complex criminal cases, particularly homicide cases. It also prosecutes cases where the county attorney has a conflict of interest; prosecutes drug cases and workers’ compensation and Medicaid fraud cases; and investigates complaints against county attorneys. Such complaints must be filed in writing and sent to the bureau via regular mail.
The Child Protection Unit handles child abuse and neglect cases around Montana. The unit has offices in Missoula, Billings, Great Falls and Miles City and focuses on resolving the legal status of children who have been in foster care for more than 15 out of the most recent 22 months.