Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Rules that Attorney General May Not Prosecute Election Law Violations

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently ruled, on separation of powers grounds, that the attorney general of Texas does not have authority to prosecute violations of Texas’ election laws, and that a statute purporting to give the attorney general that power is unconstitutional. Texas v. Stephens, No. PD-1033-20 (Tex. Crim. App. Dec. 15, 2021)….

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Kansas Attorney General May Appeal Trial Court Decision After Intervening

The Kansas supreme court recently issued a decision on mask mandates which addressed the attorney general’s right to appeal after having intervened in the case. Butler v. Shawnee Mission Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 2022 Kan. LEXIS 4 (Kan. Jan. 7, 2022). The school board of Shawnee Mission, Kansas adopted a mask mandate to address…

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Recent Decisions on the Common Interest Doctrine and Multistate Cases

State courts in Minnesota and Vermont have reached different conclusions about whether documents produced and exchanged by state attorneys general, working together on investigations, are protected by the common interest doctrine from release under state public records acts. In each case, Energy Policy Advocates (EPA) made requests under the Minnesota and Vermont public records statutes…

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Tennessee Attorney General Use of Investigative Demands Approved

A recent decision in Tennessee reaffirmed that attorney general’s civil investigative authority and upheld sanctions against a company who failed to produce the requested material. In In re Investigation of Wall and Assocs. 2021 Tenn. App. LEXIS 449 (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 12. 2021), the defendant was a provider of taxpayer services.  The Tennessee attorney…

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State Attorneys General May Obtain Disgorgement of Profits Obtained Outside the State

A New York district court recently reaffirmed the right of state attorneys general to seek disgorgement on a national level from defendants in antitrust cases brought by the states. The decision  in FTC et al. v. Vyera Pharmaceuticals, No. 20cv00706 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 24, 2021) is particularly noteworthy because the Supreme Court recently limited the FTC’s…

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Investigatory Authority of Hawaii Attorney General Affirmed

The Hawaii attorney general’s subpoena authority was recently upheld by the Hawaii supreme court in In re Investigation of KAHEA, 2021 Haw. LEXIS 213 (Haw. Sept. 20, 2021).  The attorney general issued subpoenas to KAHEA, a community-based environmental justice organization that opposes development of a large telescope on Mauna Kea on the island of Maui….

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Alaska Attorney General’s Common Law Powers Do Not Allow Suit Against Legislature

The reach of the Alaska attorney general’s common law powers was the central focus In Taylor v. Alaska Legislative Affairs Agency, No. 3AN-21-0639ICI (July 29, 2021).  On June 16, 2021, the Alaska Legislature passed an appropriations bill to fund Alaska government for the year. The bill included a provision giving it effect on June 30,…

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Personal Jurisdiction Over Attorneys General in Out-of-State Federal Courts

Two recent decisions in California and Arkansas reached different conclusions as to the court’s jurisdiction over a state attorney general based on the issuance of civil investigative demands (CIDs). In the more recent case, Twitter, Inc. v. Paxton, No. 21-cv-01644 (N.D. Cal. May 11, 2021), the Texas Attorney General’s Office (AGO) issued a CID to…

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Attorney General Powers and Duties: Arizona Attorney General May Bring Statutory, but not Constitutional Claims Against State Agency

The Arizona attorney general, like those in a few other states, does not have common law authority, and the Arizona constitution provides that the powers and duties of the attorney general “shall be as prescribed by law.”1 Arizona statutes establish the Department of Law and provide that the department “shall . . . [a]t the…

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Update on CAFA and Attorney General Actions

In 2016, the Supreme Court decided in Hood v. AU Optronics1 that the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), which allows defendants in “mass actions” in state court to remove those cases to federal court, does not apply in parens patriae actions brought by the attorney general where the state is the sole named plaintiff. Lower…

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