County Attorney

Duties and Powers of County Attorney

The core of the duties and powers of the County Attorney are provided in Title 7, Chapter 4, Part 27 of the Montana Code. Following are pertinent sections from that Part:

7-4-2711. County attorney to be legal adviser of county and other subdivisions.

  1. The county attorney is the legal adviser of the board of county commissioners. He must attend their meetings when required and must attend and oppose all claims and accounts against the county which are unjust or illegal. He must defend all suits brought against his county.
  2. The county attorney must:
    1. give, when required and without fee, his opinion in writing to the county, district, and township officers on matters relating to the duties of their respective offices;
    2. act as counsel, without fee, for fire districts and fire service areas in unincorporated territories, towns, or villages within his county;
    3. when requested by a conservation district pursuant to 76-15-319, act as counsel, without fee;
    4. when requested by a weed district pursuant to 7-22-2103, act as counsel, without fee; and
    5. when requested by a county hospital board pursuant to 7-34-2115, act as counsel, without fee, unless the legal action requested involves the county commissioners.

7-4-2712. Prosecutorial duties. The county attorney is the public prosecutor and must:

  1. institute proceedings before magistrates for the arrest of persons charged with or reasonably suspected of public offenses when he has information that such offenses have been committed and for that purpose, whenever not otherwise officially engaged, must attend upon the magistrate in cases of arrest and attend before and give advice to the grand jury whenever cases are presented to them for their consideration;
  2. draw all indictments and information.

7-4-2713. Actions to recover money. The county attorney must prosecute all recognizance's forfeited in the courts of record and all actions for the recovery of debts, fines, penalties, and forfeitures accruing to the state or his county.

7-4-2716. Duties related to state matters. The county attorney must:

  1. attend the district court and conduct, on behalf of the state, all prosecutions for public offenses and represent the state in all matters and proceedings to which it is a party or in which it may be beneficially interested, at all times and in all places within the limits of his county;
  2. when ordered or directed by the attorney general to do so, promptly institute and diligently prosecute in the proper court and in the name of the state of Montana any criminal or civil action or special proceeding;
  3. defend all suits brought against the state.

A final section in Part 27 provides:

7-4-2717. Other duties. The county attorney must perform such other duties as are prescribed by law.

The phrase, "prescribed by law" in that section refers to additional duties scattered throughout the rest of the Montana Code. As one example, Section 25-1-1106 provides duties of the County Attorney regarding revocation or suspension of certificates of registration of registered process servers, as follows:

25-1-1106. Revocation or suspension of certificate. 

  1. A certificate of registration of a registered process server may be revoked or suspended by the county attorney of the county of registration whenever the registrant makes a service of process not complying with the law.
  2. The county attorney may conduct an investigation concerning the revocation or suspension of a certificate based on the complaint of a person alleging injury caused by improper service of process by the registrant.
  3. The county attorney shall notify the clerk of the district court when a certificate of registration is suspended, revoked, or reinstated.

Staff Contacts

Name Title Phone
Dylan Jensen County Attorney (406) 228-6286