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April 05, 2006

MT PD Update: Unclear Progress

In the ongoing saga Montana's transition to a new public defender system and my efforts to get a job in that system, the latest is that one of the Assistant PD's in Billings has had her law license suspended for 30 days [via Public Defender Stuff].

According to the disciplinary order, D'Alton admitted to falsifying evidence or encouraging or inducing a witness to provide false testimony; making a false statement of material fact; engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; and engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Meanwhile, Billings (or Yellowstone County, of which Billings is the county seat) is advertising for every level of public defender. This comes after the new Public Defender Commission decided that all currently-employed PDs would have to reapply for their jobs, and also after another county named an interim public defender whose job theoretically ends July 1 when the new statewide PD system begins.

I don't get it. As of July 1, the state of Montana itself will be the only employer of PDs in Montana; individual counties will no longer be hiring or employing PDs. So what the heck is Yellowstone County doing? Is it advertising for positions that will basically not exist on July 1, or are they jumping the gun to start getting applications that they will end up forwarding to the state PD office? Is this just an expression of the county's frustration? They clearly need public defenders (the Billings office has experienced a lot of turmoil and turnover in recent months and years), yet, as of July 1, they will no longer be able to do anything about that need. Perhaps they're impatient with the pace at which the state is moving in this transition and they're trying to show that impatience by advertising these positions?

I do not know.

What I do know is that the State Public Defender Strategic Plan is interesting reading—at least for anyone who is interested in how this is all coming together. I have also heard from the state PD office that there are “quite a number of openings all around the state” and that job announcements should be posted here around the week of April 24th. I'll be keeping my eye on it.

Posted April 5, 2006 10:56 AM | 3L Montana

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Hey, one of my good pals here is from Montana, taking the Montana bar, and is going back for a clerkship there after graduation this year. Let me know if you ever want to talk to him or something, I'll get you guys together via email...he's a helluva smart guy and my partner for my mock bench trial last quarter.

Posted by: energy spatula at April 5, 2006 03:16 PM

My advice: call the Yellowstone County office and ask them. Most likely, it's such a small office that you'll be able to talk to the head. And they'll probably be impressed that you're so interested for when you do apply.

Posted by: monica at April 5, 2006 08:53 PM

AI - I came across a report about the state of MT PD work when doing a cite check. Email me if you want a copy. Sorry, I couldn't find it online, but I'm happy to send you the pdf.

Posted by: transmogriflaw at April 9, 2006 02:05 AM

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