Case Details


Conflict Of Interest, Control Of Litigation, Status In State Government

Filing State



Indiana Circuit Court




Ritz v. Elsener, No. 49C02-1310-PL-038953 (Marion Cir. Ct., Nov. 8, 2013).


Attorney General sets legal policy for state agencies, is sole represetiative of the state in legal matters, and may be authorized to represent several governmetn agencies in a case.

Case Description

In a dispute with the state Board of Education, the Superintendant of Public Instruction, represented by agency counsel, sued the individual members of the Board, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief. The Attorney General filed a motion to strike on the grounds that the AG was solely responsible for representation of the state. The court described the Attorney General as “giv[ing] the State independent legal representation and [establishing] a general legal policy for state agencies.” The Superintendent also argued that there would be a conflict of interest if both she and the members of the Board were represented by the Attorney General. The court noted that the Attorney General may advise settlement, may determine that, with appropriate safeguards, his office can represent both sides, or may give his written consent to the use of other counsel. Even if the Attorney General did represent both, his conduct would not violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, which state, “[L]awyers under the supervision of these officers may be authorized to represent several government agencies in intragovernmental legal controversies in circumstances where a private lawyer could not represent multiple private clients.”