The attorney general is the chief legal officer of the state. The goal of the attorney general and his staff is to provide the best legal service possible to the state and its citizens. The office of the attorney general is dedicated to helping each part of state government – executive, legislative, and judicial – fulfill its responsibility to serve the people of Tennessee.
The office of the attorney general and reporter is established by Article VI, Section 5, of the Tennessee Constitution. The attorney general is appointed by the justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court for an eight-year term. Through his staff, he represents the officers and agencies of the state in civil litigation before state and federal courts and the Claims Commission.
While the district attorneys prosecute most criminal cases at the trial level, the Attorney General prosecutes all criminal cases in the appellate courts and exercises original prosecutorial powers in limited areas. He also has the authority to institute ouster proceedings of public officials and civil actions for antitrust violations, consumer fraud, and environmental enforcement.
In addition to courtroom duties, the attorney general provides legal advice to state departments and agencies and the General Assembly. Formal opinions of the attorney general on legal issues are rendered to state officials upon request. The attorney general also approves all administrative regulations and leases as to form and legality. Finally, in the exercise of his reporter function, the attorney general reports the opinions of the Tennessee Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
The attorney general is assisted by a chief deputy, solicitor general, chief policy deputy, and chief of staff. Organizationally, the office is divided into 17 divisions.