Jan 19, 2022  
2020 - 2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020 - 2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

LAW 507 - Role of State Attorney General

Credits: 2

The roots of the Office of State Attorney General run deep in American jurisprudence. All thirteen American colonies had an attorney general and today all fifty states and the District of Columbia have opted for providing legal services through an office of state attorney general. Each office possesses extraordinarily broad jurisdiction and to varying degrees is independent from the executive branch of state government. Attorneys general in forty three states are elected statewide on a partisan basis. The combination of sweeping jurisdiction and constitutional independence has given rise to a unique American legal institution of growing importance. The course will cover the day to day challenges faced by attorneys general and their staffs in delivering the high quality legal advice that will guide state government in a constitutional and ethical manner. The course will also cover the relationship of attorneys general with the federal government, the private bar, and a myriad of advocacy organizations. It will focus on some of the most controversial of legal issues - consumer protection, political corruption and criminal justice reform to name just three. Although each state is unique, the course will demonstrate the remarkable congruence that exists among state attorneys general when addressing similar challenges and issues. Unlike private and other government lawyers, who work subject to ethical rules that defer decision making to agency “clients,” for the 13,000 men and women it is the representing the “public interest” that is the day-to-day reality of their professional lives. The course is weighted toward those decisions by attorneys general that reflect their independent status that is most often revealed when legislatures, other elected officials, state agencies or the federal government exceed their constitutional or statutory authority.