The attorney general shall also represent the state and all officials, departments, boards, commissions and agencies of the state in the courts, and before all administrative tribunals or bodies of any nature, in all legal or quasi legal matters, hearings, or proceedings
Rob McKenna’s own argument why he doesn’t really have to follow the law (my emphasis throughout):
“The Constitution, state law and case law interpreting the powers and duties of the Attorney General affirm that the AG is more than just a passive observer of state agency action and grant this office authority to determine whether or not to appeal cases of interest to the state,” McKenna said.
Huh. Really? […] Because the Constitution affirms absolutely nothing except that “The attorney general shall be the legal adviser of the state officers, and shall perform such other duties as may be prescribed by law.” There is no other mention in the Constitution about the AG’s powers and duties.
As for state law, we’ve already gone over that exhaustively, and I don’t see anything in there explicitly giving the AG’s office the authority to determine whether or not to appeal cases against the wishes of his client. I see RCW 43.12.075 defining a traditional attorney-client relationship between the AG and the Commissioner of Public Lands, mandating that it shall be the AG’s duty to defend the Commissioner when requested so to do, and explicitly stating that it is the Commissioner who represents the state in any proceedings relating to public land. But I see nothing in state law granting McKenna the broad powers he claims.
As for case law, well, I’ve already admitted that there is some case law on both sides of this argument, although absolutely nothing […] in Washington state…. I believe the case law I’ve previously discussed is pretty damn persuasive that the AG does not have the authority McKenna claims….
The court’s decision:
None of the case law cited confers on the attorney general the discretion he seeks to refuse to pursue an appeal despite his client’s directive that he do so. Nor does the attorney general’s constitutional role counsel otherwise. Given the mandatory language of the statute and the prohibition of hiring outside counsel, no discretion is involved, and representation is required. Therefore, we grant the writ.
So bad, in fact, that McKenna was out-lawyered by a fucking blogger!
Now, that Goldy…. He should have gone to law school…if only for his mother’s sake.