Missoula County Attorney - Home
Kirsten H. Pabst, the Missoula County Attorney, is the chief elected prosecutor, representing the State of Montana in criminal prosecutions and serving as the legal advisor for all county officials within Missoula County.
Kirsten started as a prosecutor in 1994, as a legal intern under Dusty Deschamps, now a district court judge. She successfully prosecuted many difficult child physical and sexual abuse cases and obtained convictions in several homicide and vehicular homicide cases. Kirsten taught trial practice at the law school for many years and was a frequent faculty instructor for the National District Attorney’s Association and the Montana County Attorneys Association. Kirsten grew up in Havre, Montana, and graduated from the University of Great Falls and the University of Montana School of Law. She enjoys climbing mountains, riding horses, making art and spending time with her family.
As the Missoula County Attorney, Kirsten oversees 20 attorneys who are responsible for criminal prosecutions, youth court proceedings, Special Victims Unit cases, child protection cases, involuntary commitments, guardianships, junk vehicles, community decay and others. Additionally, the County Attorney’s Office serves as legal advisor to the Board of County Commissioners, the Health Department, Community and Planning Services and all other county departments.
The Criminal Division is responsible for the prosecution of all felony offenses which occur anywhere within Missoula County and all misdemeanor offenses which occur outside the city limits of the City of Missoula. These primarily include referrals from the Missoula County Sheriff, the Missoula City Police Department and the Montana Highway Patrol but also include numerous other law enforcement agencies. In addition, the division handles the prosecution of all persons under the age of 18 in Youth Court.
Included within the Criminal Division is the Special Victims’ Unit (SVU), which is made up of 4 full-time prosecutors who are dedicated to handling cases involving victims of sexual assault, family violence and child abuse and exploitation. We are working closely with Attorney General Tim Fox in an effort to become the flagship model for prosecuting cases of sexual assault and have developed a comprehensive Policy and Procedure Manual for implementing best practices in this area of law.
Also included within the Criminal Division is the Bad Checks Department. This program handles the collection of non-sufficient funds (NSF) and closed account checks which have been returned by a financial institution to the payee. Please see our office policy regarding bad checks. If you have received a bad check and would like our office to prosecute, you must first send a letter to the bad check writer requesting that the check be made good. We also require that you provide us with some information regarding the incident. Note: checks which have been forged must be referred to an appropriate law enforcement agency for an investigation before any action can be taken by this office.
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The Civil Division is responsible for providing legal advice to the County Commissioners, all county departments and to many sub-jurisdictions (such as school, fire, conservation, and weed districts) within Missoula County. In that regard, the division does a substantial amount of work on public health and land use issues for both the county Health Department and the Office of Planning and Grants (OPG).
In addition, the division represents the State of Montana in all proceedings in Missoula County involving enforcement of state laws covering Child Abuse or Neglect and Involuntary Commitments due to mental illness. Finally, the division performs the County Attorney's duties as Public Administrator of the estates of persons who die without any heirs.
NOTE: The County Attorney's Office no longer handles Child Support Collection. For child support matters, contact the Missoula area Child Support Enforcement Office at 329-7910 or the State of Montana Child Support Enforcement Division.
This is an exciting time for Missoula and Montana because we are breaking ground on great and permanent changes in the area of sexual assault prosecutions. We are committed to being a positive example and model for other communities facing similar challenges and to being the very best sexual assault prosecution team in the State of Montana. To do that, we are examining past practices, studying the nation’s best practices and engaging in specialized training.
Our Special Victims’ Unit is made up of 4 full time prosecutors who handle only sexual assault, family violence and child abuse and exploitation cases. Prosecutors in this elite team have specialized training and smaller caseloads so that they can devote the time necessary to successfully prosecute challenging cases. The SVU meets regularly with detectives who are investigating sexual assault cases and, to enhance communication with law enforcement, criminal prosecutors have opened up daily meetings with law enforcement from all agencies.
Additionally, we have hired a Victim Witness Coordinator, who works with victims, advocates, law enforcement, to make sure that victims are treated with dignity and improve delivery of services to victims of crime. We’ve also given the Crime Victim Advocate Office access to our electronic files and tracking to improve inter-agency case management and information sharing with victims.
County Attorney Pabst has appointed both a Training Coordinator to ensure that all attorneys receive quality educational opportunities in their respective specialties and Law Enforcement Training Liaison, to make sure that our law enforcement partners are up to date on the laws and best practices for investigating sexual assault. Pabst dedicated a new ‘softer’ conference room as a Victim Trial Preparation area, designated for victim interviews to make trial preparation of defense interviews less intimidating.
The Missoula County Attorney’s Office has developed the first edition of a sexual assault policy and procedure manual with over 300 pages of best practices for prosecuting sexual assault cases in Montana, which has been made available to all prosecutors in the State of Montana.