History of the office of Attorney General
The office of the Attorney General has its roots in fifteenth century England, where the Attorney General, as the king's attorney, was considered not only the legal representative of the crown, but also the guardian of the public interest.
Utah was first established as a territory in 1850 through the Organic Act. One of the first enactments of the new legislative assembly of was to create the office of the Attorney General. The Attorney General was selected by a joint vote of the legislative assembly to a term of four years. The duties of the office were set as follows:
It shall be the duty of the Attorney General to keep his office at the seat of government, to attend to all legal business on the part of the Territory, before the courts, where the Territory is a party, and prosecute individuals accused of crimes in the judicial district which he keeps his office, in cases arising under the laws of the Territory, and such other duties as pertain to his office.
The territorial office of Attorney General lasted for 22 years. In 1874, Congress passed the Poland Law, which abolished the jurisdiction of the Utah Territory’s “probate court” system and the territorial offices of the Attorney General and Marshall. In 1895 the people of Utah again created the office of Attorney General, this time in the Constitution of Utah. Under the Utah Constitution, the duties were set as follows:
The Attorney General shall be the legal adviser of the State officers, except as otherwise provided by this constitution, and shall perform such other duties as provided by law.
Since the admission of Utah as a state on January 4, 1896, the Attorney General has been an independently elected constitutional officer of the executive department with a term in office of four years.
At the time of election, a candidate for the office of Attorney General must be at least 25 years old, admitted to practice before the State Supreme Court, and a member of the bar in good standing.
Since 1896, a number of organizational divisions have been created within the office to deal with specific issues and agencies.
Currently the Attorney General’s office consists of the following divisions:
Also see our office Organizational Chart
Click here for an Expanded History: The Attorney General as Champion of the Public Interest
Click here for the Duties of the Attorney General
For more information on the history and function of the Utah Attorney General’s office, see the agency history at the Utah State Archives site.