University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name DOJ Investigation of Missoula County Attorney's Office PN-MT-0003
Docket / Court docket unknown ( No Court )
State/Territory Montana
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On May 1, 2012, the Department of Justice began a series of investigations stemming from allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment at the University of Montana and in the greater Missoula, Mont., community. These investigations sought to determine whether the Missoula County Attorney's ... read more >
On May 1, 2012, the Department of Justice began a series of investigations stemming from allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment at the University of Montana and in the greater Missoula, Mont., community. These investigations sought to determine whether the Missoula County Attorney's Office (MCAO), as well as the Missoula Police Department and the University of Montana's Office of Public Safety, engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful gender discrimination in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Safe Streets Act, and the regulations implementing the Safe Streets Act. In May 2013, the Civil Rights Division reached agreements with the University and the Police Department, not present in this Clearinghouse.

The Attorney’s Office however refused to provide requested documents, information, or access to staff for interviews. Instead, on February 2014, MCAO filed a complaint for declaratory judgment against the Department under [the Declaratory Judgment act in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana]. As a result of their refusal to cooperate, the DOJ gathered information by reviewing documents available from other sources and by interviewing persons knowledgeable about the policies, training, and practices related to MCAO's investigation and prosecution of sexual assault.

The investigation revealed substantial evidence suggesting that MCAO's response to allegations of sexual assault and rape discriminates against women and that this discrimination is fueled, at least in part, by gender bias. The investigation indicated that the County Attorney's Office often failed to take the steps necessary to develop sexual assault cases. For instance, the County Attorney did not provide Deputy County Attorneys with the basic knowledge and training about sexual assault necessary to effectively and impartially investigate and prosecute these cases; adult women victims, particularly victims of non-stranger sexual assault and rape, were often treated with disrespect, not informed of the status of their case and revictimized by the process.
As a result, the DOJ alleged that female sexual assault victims in Missoula were deprived of fundamental legal protections and often re-victimized by Attorney's Office's response to their reports of abuse. These evidences suggested that the Attorney's Office engaged in a pattern or practice of gender discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

On June 10, 2014, DOJ reached a comprehensive agreement with the MCAO to resolve the department’s investigation of alleged gender bias in the prosecution of sexual assaults. Under the agreement, MCAO and the county agreed to take a number of significant steps to improve MCAO’s response to allegations of sexual assault and eliminate discrimination and gender bias.

Specifically, MCAO agreed to address gender bias in response to sexual assault and help to restore community confidence in the criminal justice system by developing and implementing sexual assault policies and training for prosecutors and supervisors; improving treatment of individuals who report sexual assault, including in-person interviews and improved communication

This agreement completed the Civil Rights Division’s investigation. MCAO agreed to dismiss with prejudice the declaratory judgment action, and the Justice Department agreed not to file suit regarding its allegations that the MCAO’s response to sexual assault violated federal law. The declaratory judgment case was dismissed on June 11, 2014.

The MCAO agreed to provide public quarterly reports to the Attorney General of Montana through June 2016 regarding whether the requirements of this Agreement have been
implemented.

On August 16, 2016, Attorney General of Montana announced that the MCAO was in full compliance with the 2014 agreement. Since the agreement, the MCAO has developed clear policies and guidelines for prosecuting sexual assault cases; participated in special training for sexual assault investigation, prosecution, and victim treatment; hired a victim-witness coordinator, investigator and trauma counselor to assist with sexual assault cases and address the effects of secondary trauma on staff; formed a Special Victims Unit; improved communication and coordination with law enforcement agencies and community partners; and engaged in community outreach.

The investigation is now closed.

Ginny Lee - 02/12/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Goals and Timekeeping
Monitoring
Reporting
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Special Case Type
Out-of-court
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Defendant(s) Missoula County Attorney
Plaintiff Description The U.S. DOJ Civil Rights Division
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2014 - 2016
Filing Year 2012
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Data examining the Department of Justice's civil rights investigations of local and state police departments
Marshall Project
Date: Jan. 17, 2017
By: Tom Meagher (Marshall Project)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  An Interactive Guide to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reforms
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Date: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
Date: 2014
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program Faculty)
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
9:14-cv-38 (D. Mont.)
PN-MT-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/11/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Justice Department Announces Investigations of the Handling of Sexual Assault Allegations by the University of Montana, the Missoula, Mont., Police Department and the Missoula County Attorney’s Office
PN-MT-0003-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 05/01/2012
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Findings Letter
PN-MT-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/14/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Justice Department Finds Substantial Evidence of Gender Bias in Missoula County Attorney’s Office
PN-MT-0003-0004.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 02/14/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Memorandum of Understanding Between, The Montana Attorney General, the Missoula County Attorney's Office, Missoula County, and The United States Department of Justice
PN-MT-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/10/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Department of Justice Reaches Landmark Agreement to Improve Missoula County Attorney's Office Response to Reports of Sexual Assault
PN-MT-0003-0005.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 06/10/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Semi-Annual Report December 2014
PN-MT-0003-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/09/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Quarterly Report For Period Ending June 2015
PN-MT-0003-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/04/2015
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Final Quarterly Report For Period Ending January 31, 2016
PN-MT-0003-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/31/2016
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Quarterly Report March 2015
PN-MT-0003-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/15/2016
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Correspondence Re: Conclusion of the Memorandum of Understanding
PN-MT-0003-0010.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/16/2016
Plaintiff's Lawyers Blumberg, Jeffrey (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0003-0002
Cotter, Michael W. (Montana)
PN-MT-0003-0001 | PN-MT-0003-0002 | PN-MT-0003-0003 | PN-MT-0003-0004 | PN-MT-0003-0005 | PN-MT-0003-9000
Jones, Natasha Prinzing (Montana)
PN-MT-0003-9000
Kappelhoff, Mark (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0003-0002
Leonard, Thomas J (Montana)
PN-MT-0003-9000
Lopez, Christy (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0003-0002
Mondino, Jennifer L. (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0003-0002
Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0003-0003
Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0003-0001 | PN-MT-0003-0002 | PN-MT-0003-0004 | PN-MT-0003-0005
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0003-0002
Tanner, Randy J (Montana)
PN-MT-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Fox, Timothy C. (Montana)
PN-MT-0003-0002 | PN-MT-0003-0005 | PN-MT-0003-0010
Francis, Victoria L (Montana)
PN-MT-0003-9000
Valkenburg, Fred Van (Montana)
PN-MT-0003-0002

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