Nov. 17, 2014
By Rory Green, Senior Associate
The Louisiana attorney general is vested with the power to control legal actions by, or against, the state, subject only to the obligation to uphold the laws of the state. But the extent of the attorney general’s control over state litigation is undefined. The lack of clarity in the attorney general’s authority has been the subject of repeated debate due to political controversy that is typically associated with major lawsuits by or against the state. Importantly, it is unclear whether state agencies pursuing litigation constitute the attorney general’s “clients,” with whom control of the objectives of litigation resides, or instead, whether the attorney general may dismiss suits and force settlements individually. Louisiana laws, in addition to relevant out-of-state and historical guidance, imply that it is the attorney general alone who may intervene in an independent agency’s legal actions. Nevertheless, an independent agency’s decision to pursue litigation may contradict the political standpoint of other government actors and instigate political response.