Recent Case Briefs: Attorney General Powers and Duties

The fourth edition of the most authoritative and complete source for information about state attorney general offices.

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Recent Decisions Upholding Attorney General Prosecutorial Discretion In Cases Alleging Retaliatory Prosecution

Several recent decisions, in state courts in Massachusetts and New York and in federal courts in New York, have clarified that statements made by the attorney general in connection with investigations and enforcement actions do not necessarily indicate improper bias on the part of the attorney general and do not warrant dismissal of the lawsuits….

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Attorney General’s Civil Subpoenas Upheld by State Trial and Appellate Courts and Federal Court In Parallel Civil/Criminal Proceedings

New York courts recently issued decisions involving the interplay between criminal and civil investigations. In People v. Trump Organization, No. 451685/2020 (N.Y. Sup.Ct. Feb. 17, 2022), the court denied a motion to quash subpoenas issued in a civil investigation while a parallel criminal investigation was occurring. The attorney general initiated a civil investigation into whether…

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Massachusetts “anti-SLAPP” Statute Does Not Apply to Attorney General Actions

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has ruled that the state’s “anti-SLAPP”1 statute does not apply to actions by the attorney general. Commonwealth v. Exxon-Mobil, No. 13211 (Mass. May 24, 2022). Anti-SLAPP statutes “provide defendants a way to quickly dismiss meritless lawsuits —filed against them for exercising their First Amendment rights. These laws aim to…

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DC Court of Appeals Defines Qualifications for Candidates for DC Attorney General

In a rare case addressing the qualifications for the office of attorney general, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals held that a candidate’s tenure as a city councilmember did not satisfy the D.C. Code’s requirement that the District of Columbia attorney general must have “(5) . . . been actively engaged, for at least…

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Seventh Circuit Reaffirms Independence of Indiana Attorney General

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reaffirmed the Indiana attorney general’s independence in a recent decision in an employment discrimination suit against the former attorney general of Indiana. The former attorney general had been present at a party held on the final day of the legislative session and allegedly verbally and physically…

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Arkansas Supreme Court Addresses Immunity Defenses for Attorney General

The Arkansas Supreme Court recently clarified how sovereign immunity and statutory immunity apply to actions of the attorney general in Rutledge v. Remmel, 2022 Ark. 86 (Ark. 2022). Plaintiffs sued the attorney general in both her official and her individual capacity, seeking both injunctive and monetary relief. They alleged that the attorney general had filed…

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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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Korean Company Has Sufficient Nexus with State to Permit Gas Price Manipulation Suit by California Attorney General

A recent decision by the California Court of Appeal clarified that, to demonstrate the court’s personal jurisdiction over a defendant in an antitrust case, the attorney general must simply establish that a defendant’s activities directed at the California market have a direct nexus with the anticompetitive conduct alleged in the complaint. SK Trading International Co….

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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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