Case Details


Attorney General Control Of Litigation, Common Law Powers, Relationship With Local Prosecutors

Filing State



Alabama Supreme Court




Ex parte King v. CVS Caremark Corporation, 59 So. 3d 21 (Ala. 2010)


District attorney must follow instructions of Attorney General to dismiss suit. Attorney General supervises district attorneys.

Case Description

A district attorney filed suit, in the name of the state, against a group of pharmacies, alleging violations of the state’s pharmacy and consumer laws. Before the parties filed answers, the Attorney General’s office filed a notice of dismissal of the complaints. After the district attorney filed a motion to strike the notice of dismissal, the Attorney General filed a notice of appearance and a motion for leave to represent the state. The trial court denied the motion on the grounds that the Attorney General lacked authority to dismiss a complaint filed by a district attorney on behalf of the state. After the trial court declined to certify the question, the Attorney General filed a writ of mandamus. The court, after analyzing the statutes governing the duties of both the Attorney General and the district attorney, held that although district attorneys (as well as the attorney general) are charged with instituting and prosecuting criminal and civil actions on behalf of the State, no rule or statute permits a district attorney to disregard the direction, control, and instruction of the attorney general. Where the attorney general clearly directs and instructs that litigation on behalf of the State be dismissed, his instructions in that regard take precedence over a district attorney’s desire to proceed with the action.