Case Details


Attorney General Must File Appeal Upon Request From Agency Head.

Filing State



Washington Supreme Court




Goldmark v. McKenna, No. 84704-5 (Wash. Sept. 1, 2011)


After agency head sought writ of mandamus to compel attorney general to appeal an adverse decision, the state supreme court held that the Attorney General had a statutory duty to provide the agency head with legal representation.

Case Description

The Attorney General of Washington pursued a condemnation action for the state’s Commissioner of Public Lands. The state lost the case at the trial court level, and the Attorney General declined to appeal, based on his evaluation of the merits of the case. The Commissioner sought a writ of mandamus to compel the Attorney General to appeal the case. The Washington Supreme Court examined state statutes and determined that the Attorney General is required by these statutes to provide representation to the Commissioner. In addition, because of the prohibition on hiring other counsel, the Commissioner would be left with no attorney if the Attorney General did not represent him. The court also held that the Attorney General was obligated to represent the agency in every stage of the litigation, not just at the trial court. The court stated, “But this strategical discretion within the representation does not control the question of whether such representation must be provided in the first instance.”