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Ravalli Co. attorney prepares for Marsy's Law deadline

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HAMILTON, Mont. - The Constitutional Amendment that expands the legal rights of crime victims goes into effect July 1. Montana voters passed Marsy's Law last fall.

Ravalli County attorney Bill Fulbright updated county commissioners Wednesday on the work his office is doing to get ready to meet Constitutional requirements.

Fulbright presented his preliminary budget. But at this point he has not asked the county for more money to fund the changes ushered in by the amendment.

He estimates the extra cost will be between $150,000 to $175,000. He applied for grant funding to bolster at least some of the cost of additional employees. Ideally he said he would like three full-time staff skilled in social work and investigation.

"A lot of it has to do with keeping victims informed," he said, "which is inherently going to mean keeping track of them and keeping those relationships."

Fulbright said he hopes grant money will pay for at least half of the full-time staff necessary. But he said at this time none of that is known.

He said it's possible he will visit commissioners later to see what money might be available. The county attorney also said his office should be remodeled to accommodate additional personnel. He said the office is already overcrowded.

Marsy's Law has a number of requirements including notification of all court proceedings, protection from the defendant and restitution.

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