Montana Department of Justice
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Attorney General’s Role and Responsibilities

Under Montana law, the Attorney General is the state’s chief legal officer, chief law enforcement officer, and director of the Montana Department of Justice.  As the State’s chief legal officer, the Attorney General is responsible for representing and defending Montana’s legal positions and Montana’s laws with other sovereign governments such as the federal government and other states.

Montana’s Constitution provides that “[t]he attorney general is the legal officer of the state and shall have the duties and powers provided by law.”  Mont. Const. Art. VI, § 4(4).  The delegates to the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention made the Attorney General an independent elected official responsible to the people of Montana, and not to the Governor or any other elected official.

The Attorney General controls and manages all litigation on behalf of the State, and may also intervene in all suits or proceedings which are of concern to the general public.  The Attorney General’s legal views and opinions prevail when a conflict arises between state agencies and officers whom the Attorney General represents.

The Attorney General also has supervisory authority over the State’s 56 county attorneys and, at the request of local, state or federal law enforcement agencies, can investigate criminal violations of law.

The Attorney General’s authority, duties, and responsibilities also include:

  •  Authority and control over all legal actions concerning state lands.  Mont. Code Ann. § 77-1-111.
  •  Authority to provide legal opinions – which carry the weight of law – to the Legislature; to state officers, boards or commissions; to city attorneys and to county commissioners and county attorneys.  Mont. Code Ann. § 2-15-501.
  • Authority to review and approve all state agreements and contracts with Montana’s sovereign tribal nations.  Mont. Code Ann. § 18-11-105.
  • Limited authority to review all ballot initiatives and referenda for “legal sufficiency,” and to approve ballot statements.  Mont. Code Ann. § 13-27-312, 315.
  • Establish and maintain a criminal justice information telecommunications network for connecting federal, state, county, and city law enforcement agencies.  Mont. Code Ann. § 44-2-301.
  •  Provide legal advice and services to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Mont. Code Ann. § 87-1-105.
  •  Provide legal advice and services to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.  Mont. Code. Ann. §§ 50-1-102, 53-2-202.
  •  Review referrals of complaints filed by Montana National Guard members who allege employer discrimination in violation of the Montana Military Service Employment Rights Act.  Mont. Code Ann. § 10-1-1018.
  •  Authority and control over all legal actions to recover state corporate income taxes due.  Mont. Code Ann. § 15-31-526.
  •  Authority and control over all legal actions involving contract actions involving the State.  Mont. Code Ann. § 18-1-413.
  •  Act as attorney for the Montana Public Service Commission and appear as legal counsel for the Commission in all legal actions.  Mont. Code Ann. §§ 69-3-110, 69-14-132.
  •  Enforce a beneficiary’s rights under a charitable trust.  Mont. Code Ann. § 72-38-221.
  •  Prosecute criminal actions for violations of Montana’s unemployment insurance laws.  Mont. Code Ann. § 39-51-309.
  •  Prosecute all public offenses involving a state agency as reported by the Montana Legislative Auditor.  Mont. Code Ann. § 5-13-310.
  •  Investigate and prosecute Medicaid fraud.  Mont. Code Ann. § 53-6-156.
  •  Provide legal advice and services for Montana’s Workers’ Compensation Fund (State Fund), and prosecute all workers’ compensation fraud cases.  Mont. Code Ann. §§ 2-15-2015, 39-71-206.
  •  Act as legal counsel for the Montana Public Employees Retirement System Board.  Mont. Code Ann. § 19-2-401.
  •  Represent the State in all bankruptcy matters involving debts owed to the State.  Mont. Code Ann. § 2-15-503.
  •  Ensure the resolution of issue remarks on water rights claims to protect the accuracy of the Montana General Stream Adjudication.  Mont. Code Ann. § 85-2-248(7).

The above list is not intended to be a complete compilation of all authority, duties, and responsibilities of the Attorney General.

Although the Attorney General is the chief legal officer for the State, many legal issues and questions fall outside the jurisdiction of the Attorney General’s office, including the following:

  •  The Attorney General cannot represent citizens in private legal matters, and cannot give citizens legal advice.  The State Bar of Montana or the Montana Legal Services Association may be able to offer referrals or other information.
  • The Attorney General does not have the authority to address complaints against private attorneys.  Complaints should be addressed to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, 301 South Park Ave., Suite 334, Helena, MT 59601, or phone (406) 442-1648.
  • Likewise, the Attorney General does not have authority over Montana judges.  If a citizen has a complaint about improper or unethical conduct involving a judge, he or she should contact the Judicial Standards Commission, Court Administration Office, P.O. Box 203002, Helena, MT 59620-3002.
  • The Attorney General does not direct or supervise state agencies other than the Department of Justice.  Complaints about state agencies should be directed to the specific agency’s director or to the office of the Governor.

You may contact the Office of the Attorney General by phone, fax, U.S. Mail and e-mail.  Please include your name and mailing address so that we can provide you with complete information when responding to your inquiry.

Office of the Attorney General
Montana Department of Justice
P.O. Box 201401
Helena, MT 59620-1401
Phone: (406) 444-2026
Fax: (406) 444-3549
E-mail: contactdoj@mt.gov

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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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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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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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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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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 the Consumer Protection Act. Assist consumers by distributing consumer education materials including scam and consumer alerts. Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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