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Bill In Montana State Legislature To Keep Feds In LIne

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n took place back on April 15, 1997, Big Horn County, Wyoming when Sheriff Dave Mattis issued a new policy regarding federal law enforcement personnel:

Federal law enforcement personnel need to notify Big Horn County Sheriff's Office in advance of any federal law enforcement operation in Big Horn County, Wyoming.

Sheriff's Office requests the following information before the Sheriff determines whether the Sheriff's Office will be involved:

An identification of the individuals or residences to be searched or arrested if known.

An identification of the agencies and personnel to be involved in the overall operation contemplated by the federal law enforcement agency.

An identification of the chain of command for the operation or planned activity.

An identification of the translator if those to be arrested or subject to search are not expected to be fluent in English.

Determine the time of day of proposed arrest or search.

The Sheriff's Office will inquire of federal law enforcement personnel in charge to confirm that the federal law enforcement agency in good faith has probable cause for any potential searches and arrests prior to any such search or arrest of which the Sheriffs Office gains knowledge.

The Sheriff's Office will discourage federal law enforcement arrests or searches after 10:00 P.M. unless exigent circumstances exist.

If assistance is provided, the Big Horn County Sheriff's Office will:

Have direct radio communication capability with the Sheriff's Dispatch during all searches and arrests. Report any observed violation of civil rights to the Sheriff's Dispatch contemporaneously. Keep dispatcher logs. Prepare after action reports within 48 hours. Conduct thorough investigation of any alleged civil rights violations.

This new policy by Sheriff Mattis was a result of a U.S. District Court decision (Case No. 2:96-cv-099-J) and announced that all federal officials were forbidden to enter his county without his prior approval stating: "If a sheriff doesn't want the Feds in his county he has the constitutional power and right to keep them out or ask them to leave or retain them in custody."

This court decision stemmed from a lawsuit against Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the IRS by Sheriff Mattis and other members of the Wyoming Sheriffs' Association. This lawsuit filed in federal district court in Wyoming was to enforce the protections provided by the U.S. and Wyoming constitutions. The District Court found in favor of the sheriffs and stated in their ruling that "Wyoming is a sovereign state and the duly elected sheriff of a county is the highest law enforcement official within a county and has law enforcement powers exceeding that of any other state or federal official." The language here reaffirms that "the duly elected sheriff of a county is the highest law enforcement official within a county and has law enforcement powers exceeding that of any other state or federal official." The court was referring to the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Following this ruling Wyoming sheriffs then began demanding access to all ATF files to ascertain whether or not this federal agency wasn't violating provisions of Wyoming law which prohibits the registration of firearms or the keeping of a registry of firearm owners. Additionally, these sheriffs notified federal agencies that they would 'immediately cease the seizure of private property and the impoundment of private bank accounts without regard to due process in state courts.'

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The introduction for this new bill in the Montana State Legislature, HB 284 reads as follows:

A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT REGULATING ARRESTS, SEARCHES, AND SEIZURES BY FEDERAL EMPLOYEES; PROVIDING THAT FEDERAL EMPLOYEES MUST OBTAIN THE COUNTY SHERIFF'S PERMISSION TO ARREST, SEARCH, AND SEIZE; PROVIDING EXCEPTIONS; PROVIDING FOR PROSECUTION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES VIOLATING THIS ACT; REJECTING FEDERAL LAWS PURPORTING TO GIVE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES THE AUTHORITY OF A COUNTY SHERIFF IN THIS STATE; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE."

The full text may be found here. Montana's state legislature has a short term. Supporters of this bill encourage everyone in Montana who agrees with this bill to contact their state legislator and encourage them to vote yes.

2005 NewsWithViews.com - All Rights Reserved

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2005 Montana Legislature

About Bill -- Links

HOUSE BILL NO. 284

INTRODUCED BY R. HAWK

A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT REGULATING ARRESTS, SEARCHES, AND SEIZURES BY FEDERAL EMPLOYEES; PROVIDING THAT FEDERAL EMPLOYEES MUST OBTAIN THE COUNTY SHERIFF'S PERMISSION TO ARREST, SEARCH, AND SEIZE; PROVIDING EXCEPTIONS; PROVIDING FOR PROSECUTION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES VIOLATING THIS ACT; REJECTING FEDERAL LAWS PURPORTING TO GIVE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES THE AUTHORITY OF A COUNTY SHERIFF IN THIS STATE; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE."

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:

NEW SECTION. Section 1. Purpose. It is the intent of the legislature to ensure maximum cooperation between federal employees and local law enforcement authorities; to ensure that federal employees who carry out arrests, searches, and seizures in this state receive the best local knowledge and expertise available; and to prevent misadventure affecting Montana citizens and their rights that results from lack of cooperation or communication between federal employees operating in Montana and local law enforcement authorities.

NEW SECTION. Section 2. County sheriff's permission for federal arrests, searches, and seizures -- exceptions. (1) A federal employee who is not designated by Montana law as a Montana peace officer may not make an arrest, search, or seizure in this state without the written permission of the sheriff or designee of the sheriff of the county in which the arrest, search, or seizure will occur unless:

(a) the arrest, search, or seizure will take place on a federal enclave for which jurisdiction has been actively ceded to the United States of America by a Montana statute;

(b) the federal employee witnesses the commission of a crime the nature of which requires an immediate arrest;

(c) the arrest, search, or seizure is under the provisions of 46-6-411 or 46-6-412;

(d) the intended subject of the arrest, search, or seizure is an employee of the sheriff's office or is an elected county or state officer; or

(e) the federal employee has probable cause to believe that the subject of the arrest, search, or seizure has close connections with the sheriff, which connections are likely to result in the subject being informed of the impending arrest, search, or seizure.

(2) The county sheriff or designee of the sheriff may refuse permission for any reason that the sheriff or designee considers sufficient.

(3) A federal employee who desires to exercise an exception under subsection (1)(d) shall obtain the written permission of the Montana attorney general for the arrest, search, or seizure unless the resulting delay in obtaining the permission would probably cause serious harm to one or more individuals or to a community or would probably allow time for flight of the subject of the arrest, search, or seizure in order to avoid prosecution. The attorney general may refuse the permission for any reason that the attorney general considers sufficient.

(4) A federal employee who desires to exercise an exception under subsection (1)(e) shall obtain the written permission of the Montana attorney general. The request for permission must include a written statement, under oath, describing the federal employee's probable cause. The attorney general may refuse the request for any reason that the attorney general considers sufficient.

(5) (a) A permission request to the county sheriff or Montana attorney general must contain:

(i) the name of the subject of the arrest, search, or seizure;

(ii) a clear statement of probable cause for the arrest, search, or seizure or a federal arrest, search, or seizure warrant that contains a clear statement of probable cause;

(iii) a description of the specific things to be searched for or seized;

(iv) a statement of the date and time that the arrest, search, or seizure is to occur; and

(v) the address or location where the intended arrest, search, or seizure will be attempted.

(b) The request may be in letter form, either typed or handwritten, but must be countersigned with the original signature of the county sheriff or designee of the sheriff or by the Montana attorney general to constitute valid permission. The permission is valid for 48 hours after it is signed. The sheriff or attorney general shall keep a copy of the permission request on file.

NEW SECTION. Section 3. Remedies. (1) An arrest, search, or seizure or attempted arrest, search, or seizure in violation of [section 2] is unlawful, and the persons involved must be prosecuted by the county attorney for kidnapping if an arrest or attempted arrest occurred, for trespass if a search or attempted search occurred, for theft if a seizure or attempted seizure occurred, and for any applicable homicide offense if loss of life occurred. The persons involved must also be charged with any other applicable criminal offense in Title 45.

(2) To the extent possible, the victims' rights provisions of Title 46 must be extended to the victim or victims by the justice system persons and entities involved in a prosecution.

(3) The county attorney shall prosecute once a claim of violation of [section 2] has been made by the county sheriff or designee of the sheriff, and failure to prosecute subjects the county attorney to recall by the voters and to prosecution by the attorney general for official misconduct.

NEW SECTION. Section 4. Invalid federal laws. Pursuant to the 10th amendment to the United States constitution and this state's compact with the other states, the legislature declares that any federal law purporting to give federal employees the authority of a county sheriff in this state is not recognized by and is specifically rejected by this state and is declared to be invalid in this state.

NEW SECTION. Section 5. Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.

NEW SECTION. Section 6. Severability. If a part of [this act] is invalid, all valid parts that are severable from the invalid part remain in effect. If a part of [this act] is invalid in one or more of its applications, the part remains in effect in all valid applications that are severable from the invalid applications.

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Latest Version of HB 284 (HB0284.01)

Processed for the Web on January 13, 2005 (5:21pm)

New language in a bill appears underlined, deleted material appears stricken.

Sponsor names are handwritten on introduced bills, hence do not appear on the bill until it is reprinted.

See the status of this bill for the bill's primary sponsor.

Status of this Bill | 2005 Legislature | Leg. Branch Home

This bill in WP 5.1 | All versions of all bills (WP 5.1 format)

Authorized print version w/line numbers (PDF format)

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Prepared by Montana Legislative Services

(406) 444-3064

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