2005 Montana Legislature
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SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 40
INTRODUCED BY SCHMIDT
A JOINT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA REQUESTING THAT THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL DESIGNATE AN APPROPRIATE INTERIM COMMITTEE OR DIRECT STAFF RESOURCES TO STUDY THE DELIVERY OF PROSECUTION SERVICES AND COUNTY CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES BY COUNTY ATTORNEYS IN MONTANA.
WHEREAS, the delivery of competent, qualified, and professional prosecution services is vital to a productive and responsive criminal justice system; and
WHEREAS, prosecution services on the Justice's and District Court level and county civil legal services are now being provided by elected or appointed County Attorneys in every county in the state; and
WHEREAS, the degree of experience and training among Montana's County Attorneys varies greatly throughout the state, as do the salaries of elected County Attorneys and Deputy County Attorneys; and
WHEREAS, the State of Montana has the responsibility pursuant to section 17-7-112, MCA, to pay 50% of a County Attorney's salary, but the amount of that salary is determined by the County Compensation Board; and
WHEREAS, county government has the responsibility to fund 100% of the salary of all Deputy County Attorneys and all operational and maintenance costs of a County Attorney office; and
WHEREAS, the Attorney General's office now maintains a Prosecution Services Bureau that provides prosecution assistance on a limited basis to County Attorneys in primarily small jurisdictions; and
WHEREAS, a comprehensive legal needs study has recently been completed by the Law and Justice Interim Committee, resulting in the introduction of Senate Bill No. 146, the Montana Public Defender Act, creating a statewide public defender system to improve the delivery of indigent defense services on a statewide basis; and
WHEREAS, it is in the best interests of the people of the State of Montana to encourage and develop career County Attorneys who can provide consistent levels of prosecution services and county civil legal services throughout the state.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
That the Legislative Council be requested to designate an appropriate interim committee, pursuant to section 5-5-217, MCA, or direct sufficient staff resources to review the delivery of prosecution services and county civil legal services by County Attorneys throughout Montana on the county level and to determine whether any changes may be appropriate. The study must include:
(1) a review of the various means by which prosecution services and county civil legal services are being provided by County Attorneys in Montana counties;
(2) a review of the costs associated with the provision of prosecution services and county civil legal services by County Attorneys in Montana counties;
(3) changes in state law that may be necessary to facilitate the provision of prosecution services and county civil legal services by County Attorneys throughout the state;
(4) a review of funding sources currently available to address the provision of prosecution needs and county civil legal services needs;
(5) a determination of the level of public funding required to provide consistent, uniform, and professional prosecution services to the criminal justice system and civil legal advice to elected county officials; and
(6) any other aspect of the administration of prosecution services and county civil legal services by County Attorneys for Montanans that is determined to be appropriate.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the study committee or staff be directed to request information and staff assistance from the Legislative Fiscal Division.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the study committee or staff be directed to develop a specific list of options, including an option of no action, to be considered for recommendation to the 60th Legislature.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that if the study is assigned to staff, any findings or conclusions be presented to and reviewed by an appropriate committee designated by the Legislative Council.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that all aspects of the study, including presentation and review requirements, be concluded prior to September 15, 2006.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the final results of the study, including any findings, conclusions, comments, or recommendations of the appropriate committee, be reported to the 60th Legislature.
- END -
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