Week 1 – January 23, 2017
The Authority and the Culture of the Role of the Attorney General
Syllabus: The Role of the State Attorney General
This week explores the nature of the authority and the culture that pervades offices of attorney general. The first chapter of Walter Mondale's The Good Fight, which covers Mondale's time as the Attorney General of Minnesota over 50 years ago, serves as an introduction to the Role of the Attorney General. Used with the permission (and to the personal delight) of the author, this edited chapter combines almost all aspects of the office of attorney general, e.g., the common law, statutory authority, conflicting legal and policy demands, resource restriction, the role of academics and outside counsel, hard core partisan politics and personal ambition. The chapter is also testimony that for all of the changes in the legal and political world, some things remain remarkably the same.
Also included in this first week are edited sections of Paul Wilson's A Time to Lose, Representing Kansas in Brown v. Board of Education, that depict a very different side of state attorney general authority that is also covered in the course.
The first week also contains readings that describe state "parens patriae" and the duty of state attorneys general to represent all the people of their states and not be limited to representing a specific state agency. Finally, it contains the reflections of three attorneys general who left office at the end of 2014.
- Walter Mondale, The Good Fight (2010) (Chapter 1, edited)
- Wilson, Paul E. A Time To Lose, Representing Kansas In Brown v. Board Of Education. Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1995 (Edited)
- State v. Lead Industries Association, Inc. 951 A.2d 428 (R.I. 2008) (Edited) (Track III, A and B)
- Memorandum of Former Members of the New Hampshire Attorney General Office on HB 89, Docket No. 2011-0319, May 23, 2011 (Amici to the NH Supreme Court on an Opinion of the Justices.)
- Richard P. Ieyoub and Theodore Eisenberg, State Attorney General Actions, the Tobacco Litigation, and the Doctrine of Parens Patriae, 74 Tul. L. Rev. 185 (2000) (p. 1-5) (Edited)
- Florida ex rel. Shevin v. Exxon Corp., 526 F.2d 266 (5th Cir. 1976) (edited)
- Attorney General Jon Bruning on the Role of the Attorney General
On October 30, 2014, 1011 TV of Lincoln, Nebraska ran an excellent special report that contains an insightful in depth interview with Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, in which he describes the functions of his office.
View the video HERE
- Wisconsin Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen Says Scrutiny From Media And Partisans Contributed To His "Burn Out" As Attorney General in TV Interview. (December 18, 2014)
"This job didn't become any more partisan in my books, but it did in the minds of some people," said Van Hollen. "And whereas I could walk around in this town during my first term, and with very limited exceptions, people treated me with great respect because I was the Attorney General, I found myself being disparaged because I was the Republican Attorney General. That was unfortunate."
View the Video HERE
- Maureen Hayden, “State of the Statehouse: Zoeller leaves attorney general role with legacy in public health,” Tribune Star, Dec. 25, 2016.