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Judge Rules In Cases Involving County Attorney Office

District Judge Michael G. Moses has denied former county attorney Frank Piocos’ appeal seeking relief. The ruling was filed in district court on Monday, Jan. 22.

Piocos was looking for a judgment to acknowledge he was not lawfully removed as county attorney, having his salary reinstated, having his salary paid from Feb. 4, 2023, to the present, having attorney’s fees paid and other supplemental relief.

In his ruling, Moses stated, “Frank Piocos is not qualified to be the Roosevelt County Attorney based upon the admitted facts contained in the complaint, and the final order of the Montana Supreme Court dated Sept. 19, 2023, in Downs v. Piocos.”

The judge concluded, “As he is not qualified, he has no claim, and his declaratory judgment action fails to state a claim and cannot under the circumstances state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”

Moses noted that Piocos’ arguments ignored the facts, ignored the statute and ignored the final decision of the Montana Supreme Court.

Moses wrote that “Piocos was not qualified to be the Roosevelt County Attorney at lease as of Nov. 8, 2022. On Feb. 3, 2023, he was not qualified. He has no claim to the County Attorney’s Office at the courthouse in Wolf Point. He has no claim to pay or benefits as the Roosevelt County Attorney, and last but not least, he has no claim for attorney’s fees. Piocos and only Piocos held the keys to the County Attorney’s Office and entitlement to pay and benefits. All he had to do was comply with the residency statute. Because he did not comply, he is not qualified.”


Moses also filed his ruling regarding a motion for partial summary judgment in a case involving Roosevelt County Attorney Janet Christoffersen v. Roosevelt County.

Resolution 2024-2, which was approved by commissioners on July 25, 2023, set the county attorney’s salary at $119,215.60 and deputy county attorney’s salary at 85 percent of the county attorney’s pay. The resolution also made the county attorney a part-time position and kept the deputy county attorney’s position at full-time.

Christoffersen argued that it was impossible for the county attorney to approve the changes because she was removed from office in late June 2023.

The county argued that deputy county attorney Thomas Bleicher had authority to consent to the resolution. Attorney Stephanie Oblander notes that statutes make it clear that activities and duties of county offices can continue seamlessly and without interruption, regardless of the temporary absence of the principal officer.

Moses ruled that the provisions of Resolution 2024-2 that relates to a salary increase for fiscal year 2023-2024 are valid and enforceable.

The judge rules that the clause that relates to making the county attorney position a part-time position is invalid and unenforceable.

Moses wrote that because there is no declaration or affidavit of the deputy county attorney submitted by either party, the record is not complete and there remains a material issue of fact as to whether Bleicher did consent to the part-time position change event if he could. “This court find that the consent is required by ‘the’ county attorney, not the deputy or even a special deputy appointed by the attorney general.”

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