The attorney general is accountable for representing the state in court, prosecuting criminal offenses, providing advice to the governor and providing formal opinions.
In addition, the office serves to represent local governments and their officials.
For over 150 years, the Attorney General’s Office has represented Washington in courtrooms throughout Washington state. Since March 1 of that same year, its legal divisions have obtained nearly $300 million for citizens through restitution and other services resulting from state funding. For every $1 invested by Washingtonians into these legal divisions, they returned $40 in benefits to citizens.
Represents the State of Washington
As Washington’s chief legal officer, the attorney general serves the state and public interest by upholding lawful orders. He is elected by voters during presidential election years and serves a four-year term.
The Attorney General Office represents the State of Washington before the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and trial courts in all matters affecting its interests. It provides legal counsel to Governors, members of Legislature and other state officers on legal matters; when requested by designated public officials it provides formal written attorney general opinions on constitutional or legal questions.
He currently oversees a team of 500 attorneys and 600 professional staff who provide legal services to state agencies, boards, commissions and colleges/universities as well as the Governor and Legislature.
His accomplishments include blocking President Trump’s first executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, upholding same-sex couples’ rights and advocating for our veterans.
Prosecutes Criminal Offenses
Prosecutors play a vital role in deciding when, where, and how to prosecute criminal offenses. Their decision whether or not to initiate prosecution, recommend charges, or accept pleas of guilty is indicative of their belief that bringing serious violations of federal law to trial serves society’s interests.
When prosecuting an offense, the prosecutor should take into account both its nature and seriousness, as well as any jurisdiction’s interests in it – including national security concerns. Such considerations are essential in order to avoid using limited federal resources on cases that do not pose major concerns to authorities in that jurisdiction, such as technicalities of the offense or victim identity.
Attorney generals have the responsibility of safeguarding the public by upholding consumer protection laws, stamping out anti-competitive business practices and representing public interest in utility matters. Although these duties don’t come with as much latitude as other prosecutorial decisions, they remain significant nonetheless.
Advises the Governor
As Washington’s chief legal officer, the attorney general provides advice to the governor on a range of matters such as public finance, environmental health, social policy and government management.
The attorney general also represents the state in courtrooms. This role involves challenging and defending actions taken by state officials that violate ethical standards.
Additionally, the attorney general serves as legal adviser to the governor on various matters such as civil legal services and veteran affairs.
In Washington State, the attorney general works to improve the justice system and reduce disparities. This includes reforming the judiciary to reflect the people of the state and increasing diversity on court benches throughout the region.
Gives Formal Opinions
At the request of designated public officials such as governors, state legislators or county prosecuting attorneys, the attorney general provides formal opinions on constitutional or legal questions. Opinions usually provide clarity around statutes whose interpretation is unclear or contentious, or which appear inconsistent with other state laws.
Opinions are not legally binding on courts, but they are usually given careful consideration and respect. Opinions can also be useful in resolving legal disputes between two government entities.
Opinions are the product of extensive research, careful drafting and review. They typically begin as drafts from a lawyer who are then reviewed by an Opinions Editor before being signed off on by at least one other Assistant Attorney General. Once finalized, opinions may go through several revisions before publication.