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Attorney General’s Office

The Attorney General’s Office, headed by Attorney General Austin Knudsen, 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:

  • cannot represent citizens in private legal matters,
  • does not have the authority to address complaints against private attorneys,
  • does not have authority over Montana judges, and
  • does not direct or supervise state agencies other than the Department of Justice. Questions or complaints about other state agencies should be directed to the specific agency’s director or to the office of the governor.

Find the Department of Justice’s policy on service of process upon the State of Montana and its officers; and serving notices of constitutional challenge here.

Contact the Legal Services Division

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:

Office of the Attorney General
Justice Building, Third Floor
215 North Sanders
P.O. Box 201401
Helena, MT 59620-1401
Phone: (406) 444-2026
E-mail: [email protected]

Derek Oestreicher, Chief Deputy Attorney General
Phone: (406) 444-2026

Agency Legal Services Bureau

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.

Katherine Orr, Interim Bureau Chief
1712 Ninth Avenue
P.O. Box 201440
Helena, MT 59620-1440
Phone: (406) 444-2026

Appellate Services Bureau

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.

Tammy Plubell, Bureau Chief
Phone: (406) 444-2026

Prosecution Services Bureau

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.

Dan Guzynski, Bureau Chief
Phone: (406) 444-2026

Training Coordinator
Phone: (406) 444-2026

Child Protection Unit

The Child Protection Unit (CPU) is a team of experienced child abuse prosecutors who assist county attorney’s offices by providing training and assisting in the prosecution of Dependency Neglect cases, including when the county attorney’s office requests assistance, has a conflict of interest, or is otherwise unable to represent the State. The CPU has offices in Billings, Helena, and Missoula and focuses on ensuring the best practice prosecution and resolution of child welfare cases in Montana.

Karen P. Kane, Supervising Attorney
Child Protection Unit
2677 Palmer St., Suite 300
Missoula, MT 59808
Phone: (406) 329-1564

Other Resources

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