Montana Department of Justice

Opinions – 2000

Disclaimer: The Department of Justice expends considerable effort to ensure that the attorney general’s opinions appearing on our website are true copies of the originals on file in our office. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of a printed copy that you did not personally download from the website.

Volume & Opinion Number Opinion Held Date Issued
48-26 The Department of Commerce may not encumber unexpended funds from an appropriation for the Microbusiness Development Program by committing those funds after fiscal year-end. 12/29/00
48-25 A municipality with self-governing powers may, under Mont. Code Ann. §§ 7-6-1501 to -1509, establish a tiered resort tax schedule providing different tax rates, none of which exceed 3 percent, for similar goods or services according to the character of the business in which the goods or services are sold or offered. 12/28/00
48-24
  1. The light vehicle registration fee established in 1999 Mont. Laws, ch. 515, §§ 1-3, ratified by the voters as L.R. 115, may not be assessed against tribally owned vehicles or vehicles owned by enrolled tribal members residing on their reservations.
  2. The light vehicle registration fee established in 1999 Mont. Laws, ch. 515, §§ 1-3, ratified by the voters as L.R. 115, may not be assessed against non-resident active duty military personnel stationed in Montana.
12/27/00
48-23
  1. A county clerk and recorder may not refuse to file a “blanket document” that contains a listing of multiple reconveyances of trust indentures, provided the appropriate fee is paid.
  2. A county clerk and recorder must charge the fee described in Mont. Code Ann. § 7-4-2632 for each page of a blanket document.
12/20/00
48-22 Mont. Code Ann. § 7-32-303(6) authorizes only one extension, not to exceed 180 days, to the requirement that every peace officer must attend and successfully complete, within one year of his or her initial appointment, an appropriate peace officer basic training course certified by the Board of Crime Control. 12/18/00
48-21 Mont. Code Ann. § 15-6-201(1)(a)(ii) does not exempt school district properties from paying reasonable solid waste management fees which do not exceed the cost of the services they use. 12/15/00
48-20
  1. The public safety commission in a department of public safety created pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. title 7, chapter 32, part 1, may set the salary of a deputy sheriff employed in the department at any level at or above the amount that would be paid to the deputy under Mont. Code Ann. § 7-4-2508.
  2. The due process provisions of Mont. Code Ann. §§ 7-32-107 to -110 do not apply upon termination of an undersheriff appointed to serve in a department of public safety.
12/12/00
48-19
  1. Part-time deputy county attorneys are entitled to longevity pay under Mont. Code Ann. § 7-4-2503(3)(d).
  2. The term “years of service” contained in Mont. Code Ann. § 7-4-2503(3)(d) means a calendar year, not 2080 hours of employment.
09/05/00
48-18 Both the Department of Public Health and Human Services and the county welfare boards have an interest in staffing patterns for the county public assistance offices, and staffing patterns should be determined through a process of consultation and negotiation between the Department and the county boards. In the event agreement is not reached, the Department of Public Health and Human Services has the final authority for determining the staffing patterns of a non-assumed county department of public welfare. 07/13/00
48-17
  1. The holding in 48 Op. Att’y Gen. No. 10 applies to all marriage applications on file with a clerk of the district court, not only to those filed after the date of the opinion.
  2. Pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. § 50-15-122(5), a clerk of the district court may allow public inspection and copying of the marriage certificate filed pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. § 40-1-321, but not of the marriage license.
07/05/00
48-16 The county commissioners are required to fund the legal defense expenses of an indigent juvenile against whom a petition has been filed in youth court. 06/30/00
48-15 If the city council has already imposed the maximum mill levy authorized by statute in order to fund the firefighters’ disability and pension fund, it may not levy an additional special tax or seek voter approval for an additional special tax, even if the fund’s value is less than 4 percent of the taxable valuation of all taxable property within the city. 06/27/00
48-14 The City and County of Butte-Silver Bow, a consolidated government with self-government powers, has the authority to acquire and operate electric and natural gas utilities within and outside the boundaries of the local government unit. 06/22/00
48-13
  1. Use of a county road right-of-way to gain access to streams and rivers is consistent with and reasonably incidental to the public’s right to travel on county roads.
  2. A bridge and its abutments are a part of the public highway, and are subject to the same public easement of passage as the highway to which they are attached. Therefore, the public may gain access to streams and rivers by using the bridge, its right-of-way, and its abutments.
  3. A member of the public must stay within the road and bridge easement to gain access to streams and rivers. Absent definition in the easement or deed to the contrary, the width of a bridge right-of-way easement is the same as the public highway to which it is attached.
  4. Access to streams and rivers from county roads and bridges is subject to the valid exercise of the county commission’s police power and its statutory power to manage county roads.
  5. Access to streams and rivers from county roads and bridges created by prescription is dependent upon the uses of the road during the prescriptive period.
05/26/00
48-12
  1. A city with general government powers may appropriate funds to a private, non-profit corporation for operation of a private museum, if it is determined that the operation of the museum is for a public purpose and if the city enters into a contract with the corporation guaranteeing the public purpose of the enterprise.
  2. Article V, section 11(5), of the Montana Constitution limits only appropriations made by the Montana legislature and does not limit expenditures by local governments.
05/18/00
48-11
  1. A substitute city court judge may be selected by the sitting city judge from a list of qualified persons regardless of the availability of another city judge or justice of the peace.
  2. If a sitting justice of the peace has been disqualified pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. § 3-1-803 or -805, the substitute justice must be another justice of the peace and may not be someone who has qualified to act as a substitute justice under Mont. Code Ann. § 3-10-231(2). If the sitting justice of the peace is sick, disabled or absent, the substitute justice may be a person who has qualified under § 3-10-231(2), as long as another justice of the peace or a city judge is not readily available. If the sitting justice of the peace is on vacation or in training, the substitute justice is chosen in the same manner as if the justice were sick or absent, as long as there is not another justice of the peace from the county of the sitting justice.
  3. In determining who is available to act as a substitute justice of the peace, the sitting justice may rely upon letters from other justices and city judges that they are unavailable. Such letters should not be relied upon indefinitely, however. After a reasonable time, as determined by the sitting justice, the justices and judges who wrote the letters should be contacted to determine if they are still unavailable.
04/20/00
48-10
  1. Subject to the provisions of Mont. Code Ann. §§ 50-15-121 and -122, applications for marriage licenses should be treated as confidential records once they have been completed and filed with the clerk of the district court.
  2. Once a marriage has been reported to the Department of Public Health and Human Services on the form prescribed by the Department, the Department or the clerk of the district court may disclose to the public the names of the bride and groom, the date and place of the marriage, the name of the officiant and whether the ceremony was religious or civil.
  3. The clerk of court may not divulge or provide copies of applications for marriage licenses under Mont. Code Ann. § 50-15-121(1) unless the requestor is the applicant, the applicant’s spouse, child, parent, or guardian, or an authorized representative. For purposes of this statute, “authorized representative” has the meaning provided in Mont. Code Ann. § 50-5-1103(2).
03/23/00
48-9 A tank that has been granted eligibility for reimbursement under Mont. Code Ann. § 75-11-308 loses its eligibility status if the tank falls out of compliance with applicable state and federal laws and rules. 02/17/00

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Attorney General's Office & Legal Services Division

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.

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Children’s Justice Bureau

The Children’s Justice Bureau is an agency-wide initiative at the Montana Department of Justice dedicated to IMPROVING how we respond to child victims, DEVELOPING state-of-the-art approaches by keeping up with the newest research and, most importantly, HELPING child victims recover and move on with their lives.

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Division of Criminal Investigation

The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the Montana Department of Justice is involved in many aspects of Montana law enforcement and is integral to the Department dciof Justice’s mission of promoting public safety.

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Forensic Science Division & State Crime Lab

The mission of the Montana Forensic Science Division is to use operationally efficient and financially responsible practices as the laboratory provides accurate, objective, and timely forensic analyses to the criminal justice community in order to maximize value to the citizens of Montana.

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Missing Persons Clearinghouse

The Missing Children Act of 1985 established a Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse within the Department of Justice. In March 2008, the department implemented a searchable online database that, for the first time, is updated in real time and includes any photos provided by law enforcement.

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Office of Victim Services

The goal of the Office of Victim Services is to provide tools and information to help crime victims recover from their experience and provide them with a range of services available. The criminal justice system can be confusing and intimidating for victims. To assist them as they go through the justice system, the Office of Victim Service is available to answer any questions they may have.

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Central Services Division

The Montana Department of Justice’s Central Services Division provides financial and human resources support for the department. We make sure that everything works for the people Working for Justice. If you’re interested in a rewarding career helping protect the rights and safety of all Montanans, we invite you to join our team of over 800 dedicated employees working across the state.

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Justice Information Technology Services Division

Our Justice Information Technology Services Division (JITSD) provides vital Information Technology (IT) infrastructure upon which Montanans and lojitsdcal and state law enforcement agencies rely for timely, accurate information. JITSD manages the IT systems, services, and interfaces to support nearly 800 DOJ employees, 325 statewide county motor vehicle system users, and over 3,000 Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) users across the state.

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Montana Highway Patrol

Montana is rich in natural beauty and history. From Glacier Park in the west to Makoshika Park in the east, the men and women of the Montana Highway Patrol are working hard to make your travels safe and enjoyable. The Highway Patrol’s core values are “Service, Integrity and Respect.” These values are reflected in our commitment to public safety through diligent and fair enforcement of our traffic codes.

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Montana Law Enforcement Academy

The Montana Law Enforcement Academy is the premier law enforcement and public safety educational and training institution for state, county, city and tribal officers throughout the state. The Academy offers entry-level programs referred to as Basic Programs and advanced training through an array of Professional Development Programs.

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Public Safety Officer Standards & Training

The Council was formed in 2007 under 2-15-2029, MCA as an independent Quasi-judicial board. And as allowed by statute the Council adopted Administrative Rules in order to implement the provisions of Title 44, chapter 4, part 4, MCA. Per 44-4-403, MCA the Council is required to set employment and training standards for all Public Safety Officers as defined in 44-4-401, MCA and in addition the Council shall provide for the certification or recertification of public safety officers and for the suspension or revocation of certification of public safety officers.

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Gambling Control Division

Through the Gambling Control Division, the Department of Justice regulates all forms of gambling in Montana, except for the Montana Lottery and horse racing. The legislature has charged the division with maintaining a uniform regulatory climate that is fair and free of corrupt influences. The division is also responsible for collecting gambling revenue for state and local governments.

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Motor Vehicle Division

The mission of the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is to identify and promote efficient, cost-effective programs that benefit the interests, safety, and well-being of Montana citizens through licensing, registering, and regulating the motoring activities of the public. The MVD continuously strives for excellence in customer service. Streamlining the way we do business has allowed us to improve our efficiency and make our services more convenient for our customers.

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Natural Resource Damage Program

The Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) was created in 1990 to prepare the state’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). Decades of mining and mineral processing operations in and around Butte and Anaconda released substantial quantities of hazardous substances into the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown. These hazardous substances extensively degraded the area’s natural resources.

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Office of Consumer Protection

Enforce consumer laws designed to protect the consumer from unfair or deceptive business practices. Enforce statutes relating to telephone solicitation and telemarketing. Provide information to consumers about their basic rights under consumer laws. Assist consumers by distributing consumer education materials including scam and consumer alerts. Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices.

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Human Trafficking

The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country.

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Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program

Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Each year, prescription drug abuse contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans — making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Our kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.

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Safe in Your Space

When it comes to embracing new technology, kids have rapidly outpaced their parents and teachers. By their early school years, many children are already more comfortable on the Internet than their parents. But just because children are smart enough to know how to navigate the Internet, doesn’t mean they have the experience to make good decisions about some of the possibilities they may face online.

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Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

Created by the Montana Department of Justice in 1989, the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry is a valuable resource for Montanans to protect their families against sexual or violent offenders.

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Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

Drinking and driving has been a chronic – and deadly — problem on Montana’s roadways for decades. In 2008, Montana was ranked as the deadliest state in the nation when it came to per capita DUI-related traffic fatalities.

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Work for Justice

Everyday at The Montana Department of Justice, our employees are dedicated to ensuring the well-being and rights of the people of our great state. We’re passionate about what we do because it’s more than a job or a career. It’s about who we are as people. If this sounds like you, your unique experiences, knowledge, and values may be just what the Montana Department of Justice is looking for and needs. In return we can offer a culture that promotes fairness and growth opportunities.

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