Karen Townsend brings a wealth of experience and qualifications to her bid for election to the Fourth District Court, which serves Missoula and Mineral Counties. Townsend is seeking the seat being vacated by retiring Judge Douglas Harkin. Townsend, who served as Chief Deputy County Attorney for eight years, brings extensive experience as a prosecuting attorney, substantial trial experience, and a tireless work ethic to the position.
Prior to being promoted to Chief Deputy County Attorney, Townsend served as Deputy County Attorney for a total of 18 years between 1976 and 1998. During that time, she also served as Chief Staff Attorney of the County Prosecutors Bureau for the Montana Attorney General in Helena; as Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney in Billings; and as Director of Training for the National College of District Attorneys.
Townsend is recognized by her ability to teach others the law. She has lectured to law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges in Missoula, throughout Montana, and at national programs. She has taught at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and the National Advocacy Center. She is considered an expert on Montana search and seizure law, and her written materials are distributed to each Montana prosecutor and justice of the peace and are used extensively by judges and law clerks in Montana.
In addition to her work as a prosecutor, Townsend has substantial experience with civil law through her work with the Advanced Trial Advocacy Program at UM Law School and the Trial Competition Team of the American Trial Lawyers Association. Early in her career, she was chosen as a member of the Human Rights Commission and was selected as chair in 1979.
Townsend has an extensive community service record, including memberships on the following volunteer boards: Big Brothers, Big Sisters; Family Violence Council; Breast Cancer Resource Network; Montana Human Rights Commission; and St. Patrick Hospital. In addition, Townsend was a 1996 YWCA Salute to Excellence winner in the category of public service, and served as the first woman president of the Missoula Kiwanis Club.