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Chouteau County attorney gets Havre job


The Chouteau County attorney was sworn in this morning as a deputy Hill County attorney.

Stephen Gannon took an oath of office from the Hill County Commission during a ceremony this morning at the County Courthouse.

County Attorney Cyndee Peterson selected Gannon to serve as a part-time prosecutor in Hill County Justice Court. Gannon may also advise the County Commission, she said.

Gannon, who will continue to work part time as the Chouteau County attorney, said he is excited to work in Havre.

"It will be a challenge," he said, "but I think it will work out well. I have worked with Cyndee before in the past and I know she will be great to work with."

Gannon said being appointed to work in Hill County will not interfere with his work in Chouteau County.

"Chouteau County is my elected position and will be my primary focus," said Gannon, who has a law office in Big Sandy. "My first obligation needs to be to the people who elected me."

Hill County will pay Gannon $21,200 a year for his services. His salary in Chouteau County is $41,000 a year, he said.

Peterson cited Gannon's experience and personality as strengths that he brings to the courtroom.

"One of his biggest assets is his temperament and the way he handles himself in the courtroom," she said. "He's really easy to get along with. He just has a great demeanor, and gets along well with everyone from the victims to law enforcement officers to other attorneys."

Gannon said his experience working both sides of the legal table makes him a good candidate for the job.

"I've been in private practice for 10 years or more now," he said, "so I know what the other side is thinking. My experience as Chouteau County attorney is probably my biggest asset. I also have a good relationship with law enforcement in both Chouteau and Hill counties, so that should be helpful as well."

Gannon replaces Dan Boucher, who last month won a bid to handle the county's public defender work along with the Havre law firm Bosch Kuhr Dugdale Martin and Kaze. Prior to that, the contract was held by Havre lawyers Carl White and Randy Randolph, and Fort Benton lawyer Jeremy Yellin.

Peterson said she approached Gannon about taking the job.

"I thought it would benefit both of our counties," she said. "I talked to him about it and he agreed. We believe this venture will provide both offices with what we need at this time."

Gannon is the second prosecutor from north-central Montana to be appointed to the Hill County Attorney's Office. Former Great Falls prosecutor Gina Bishop was appointed as chief deputy county attorney by Peterson last month. Peterson replaced David Rice, who served as Hill County attorney for 30 years until he became a District Court judge last month.

Gannon is a partner in a Big Sandy law firm that includes former Blaine County Attorney Mark Harshman. Gannon said he will continue to work at the firm on a limited basis.

"I've limited my private practice to collections and some other minor things," he said.

Gannon is a native of Sun River. He graduated from the University of Montana School of Law in 1992 and then worked as a criminal defense lawyer in Havre for one year. In 1993 he joined the firm that is now Hauge Sheehy Harshman and Gannon.

He is married and has four children.


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