Location:
ATTORNEY GENERAL;
Scope:
Other States laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


June 25, 2010

 

2010-R-0253

STATES' QUALIFICATIONS FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL

By: Kristin Sullivan, Principal Analyst

You asked for other states' qualifications for attorney general and whether they are constitutional or statutory.

SUMMARY

State qualifications for attorney general, and whether they are constitutional or statutory, vary. The most common qualifications address minimum age, citizenship, residency, electoral status, and bar admission. Others prohibit the attorney general from holding multiple offices.

Some states expressly prescribe these qualifications through their constitution or statute. Others are less specific and imply qualifications. For example, states often require the attorney general to be an elector. In the absence of a provision prescribing minimum age, we know that he or she must be at least age 18 since no state currently allows younger individuals to qualify for electoral status.

According to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), state constitutions establish the Office of the Attorney General in 44 states and the selection method and term length in 42 states. Constitutions in 23 states set specific qualifications for office, the most common being minimum age and residency requirements. Twenty-seven states set specific statutory or constitutional bar membership requirements. Of those that do, 11 set a minimum time that an individual must be admitted, ranging from five to 10 years.

QUALIFICATIONS

Table 1 provides a cross section of states' qualifications for attorney general concerning age, citizenship, residency, electoral status, and bar membership and indicates if they are constitutional or statutory. It represents a compilation of information from State Attorneys General Powers and Responsibilities, issued by NAAG, and The 2009 Book of the States, issued by the Council of State Governments (CSG).

Table 1: State Qualifications for Attorney General in Selected States

State

(citation)

Minimum Age

U.S. Citizenship(years, if applicable)

State Resident

(years, if applicable)

Qualified voter

(years, if applicable)

Bar Admission Requirement

Alabama

(Ala. Const. Art. V, 132)

25

Yes (7)

Yes (5)

Yes

**

Arizona

(Ariz. Const. Art. 5, 1 and 2 and Ariz. Rev. Stat. 41-191)

25

Yes (10)

Yes (5)

Yes

Must be a practicing attorney before the state Supreme Court for at least five years immediately preceding the date of taking office

California

(Cal. Const. Art. V, 11 and 13, Cal. Elec. Code 201, and Cal. Gov't Code 12503)

18

Yes

Yes

Yes

Must be admitted to practice before the state Supreme Court for at least five years immediately preceding election or appointment to the office

Colorado

(Colo. Const. Art. IV, 1 and 4)

25

Yes

Yes (2)

Yes

Must be a licensed attorney of the state Supreme Court in good standing

Georgia

(Ga. Const. Art. V, 3)

25

Yes (10)

Yes (4)

Yes

Must be an active-status member of the Georgia State Bar for seven years

Illinois

(Ill. Const. Art. V, 3 and 15 Ill. Comp. Stat. 205/4)

25

Yes

Yes (3)

Yes

Must be a member of the state bar

Kentucky

(Ky. Const. Part I 91 and 92)

30

Yes

Yes (2)

**

Must be a practicing lawyer for at least eight years before election

Maine

(Me. Const. Art. IX, 11 and Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 5, 191-B)

**

**

**

**

Must be a member in good standing of the state bar (i.e., admitted to the practice of law in Maine, registered with the Board of Overseers of the Bar as an active practitioner, and not disbarred or suspended from practice)

Maryland

(Md. Const. Art. V, 4, Md. Code Ann., State Gov't 6-101 et seq.)

18

Yes

Yes

Yes

Must have resided and practiced law in the state for at least 10 years

Massachusetts

(Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 12, 1)

18

**

Yes (5)

Yes

Must be a member of the state bar

Montana

(Mont. Const., Art. VI, 3)

25

Yes

Yes (2)

**

Must be an attorney in good standing to practice law in the state and engaged in active practice for at least five years before election

New Hampshire

(N.H. Const. Art. II, 46 and N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 7.1 and 21-M:3)

**

Yes

Yes

**

Must have been admitted to the practice of law in the state and shall be qualified by reason of education and experience

New Jersey

(N.J. Const. Art. V, IV)

18

**

Yes

**

**

New York

(N.Y. Const. Art. IV, 2 and Art. V, 1)

30

Yes

Yes (5)

**

**

Oklahoma

(Okla. Const. Art. III, 1 and art. VI, 1 and 3)

31

Yes

Yes

Yes (10)

**

Rhode Island

(R.I. Const. Art. III, 1 and Art. IX, 1 and 12, R.I. Gen. Laws 42-9-1 et seq.)

18

**

**

Yes

**

Utah

(Utah Const. Art. VII, 1 and 3)

25

Yes

Yes (5)

Yes

At the time of election, must be admitted to practice before the state Supreme Court and in good standing at the bar

Vermont

(Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 3, 151 et seq.)

18

Yes

Yes

Implied

**

Virginia

(Va. Const. Art., V, 15, Art. VI, 7, Va. Code Ann. 2.2-500, 24.2-210, and 24.2-500)

30

Yes

Yes (1)

Yes

Must have been admitted to the state bar at least five years prior to election (same as judge of court)

Wisconsin

(Wis. Const. Art. V, 2, Art. VI, 1 and 3)

**

Yes

Yes

**

**

** Indicates no formal provision

Sources: State Attorneys General Powers and Responsibilities, NAAG

The 2009 Book of the States, CSG

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