Case Details


Outside Counsel Retained By AG

Filing State



Alaska Supreme Court




Tesoro Petroleum v. State, No. S-9379 (Alaska S. Ct. Feb.15, 2002)


The Attorney General can share information obtained through a CID with outside counsel retained by the Attorney General to assist in the investigation. Outside counsel, although designated an independent contractor in the retainer agreement with the state, can be considered an “authorized employee” for purposes of the CID statute.

Case Description

The Attorney General initiated an antitrust investigation into anticompetitive practices in the fuel industry in the state, and retained outside counsel to assist with that investigation. The written contract between the state and outside counsel referred to him as an “independent contractor.” The state issued a CID to Tesoro, which Tesoro challenged as overbroad. Tesoro also objected to the release of the information from the CID to the state’s outside counsel. The state’s CID law provides that information received under CID “may not be produced for inspection or copying by, nor may its contents be disclosed to, anyone other than an authorized employee of the state without the consent of the person who produced the material.” The trial court held that outside counsel was an authorized employee of the state. Tesoro appealed. The Supreme Court held that the statutory provision cited by Tesoro applied to post-production disclosure, and because outside counsel was “part of the team that the attorney general has assembled to conduct the Tesoro investigation’s regular work,” . . . [outside counsel] fall within the circle of those having direct authority to inspect the materials produced under the CID, without any further production or disclosure occurring.” The court also found that the retention agreement’s description of outside counsel as an independent contractor, and not an employee, was not material for purposes of the CID statue. “Instead “authorized employee” should be understood in its statutory context as a grant of investigative power to the attorney general. In that context, it can sensibly include private lawyers hired by the state to assist in antitrust investigations.”