County attorney, commissioners to meet again on DOJ


MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula's County Attorney has planned another meeting with county commissioners regarding his ongoing battle with the Department of Justice.

Last week Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg asked for support from commissioners to take on the DOJ. It launched an investigation in May 2012 into how the University of Montana, Missoula Police Department, and Missoula County Attorney's Office handle sexual assault reports.

Both UM and the police department made agreements with the DOJ last year. But Van Valkenburg maintains the DOJ has no legal right to investigate his office.

He wants to take the DOJ to court and let a judge decide if the department has the right to investigate. Van Valkenburg plans to send a response to the DOJ this week but not before meeting with commissioners again.

"We're always hopeful that we don't have to go to court to clarify something," said Commission Chair Jean Curtiss. "So if his letter that he's bringing is able to convince the Department of Justice that they should re-evaluate their authority in this case, you know, maybe we don't have to go there, but sometimes it's just better to clarify it in court."

Van Valkenburg will meet with commissioners again Thursday morning at 10 during the regularly scheduled administration meeting.

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