On Tuesday, February 11, Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg officially filed an action in U. S. District Court against the Department of Justice.

Van Valkenburg said the action seeks clarification as to whether the U.S. Department of Justice has any legal authority to investigate his office.

"We've been in a nearly two year-long dispute with the DOJ, and they don't really put up any strong case at all as to whether or not they do have the claimed authority, and I think it's time we finally get this resolved by a federal judge."

Van Valkenburg sought and received approval and funds for this action from the Missoula County Commissioners.

"I've taken that $50,000 and hired a local law firm Boone Karlberg and Natasha Jones in particular from that firm to file an action in federal court," Van Valkenburg said. "The Department of Justice will have an opportunity to respond to our filing, and that will probably take 30 days or so. There will then be some briefs in front of a judge at that point, and hopefully, within two or three months the judge will make a decision."

Van Valkenburg expects the hearing will be held in the Missoula federal courthouse, and as he has said often, he expects to win. In a recent interview, Van Valkenburg said a federal judge can put a stop to what he refers to as unlawful interference in the county attorney's office.

"We’re going to file this thing, and the DOJ is either going to fold their tent, or a federal judge is going to tell them to pack their bags and go back to Washington, D.C. and leave us alone.”

Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg