Rhode Island. Dept. of the Attorney General | State Archives Catalog
Name: Rhode Island. Dept. of the Attorney General
Historical Note: In May 1650 the office of “Attorney Generall for the Colonie” and “Solicitor” were created. In 1651 occurred the separation between the Island towns and those on the main land. No Attorney General was elected for the latter. In December 1740, the act providing for the election of an attorney general was repealed, and a king’s attorney directed to be chosen for each county. In September 1742, the act was repealed, and provision made for election of one attorney-general only. The office of the Attorney General was formally adopted under the Rhode Island State Constitution in 1842. The Attorney General is established under the Rhode Island Constitution as one of the five general officers subject to election by voters. The Department of Attorney General is divided into three distinct divisions; Criminal, Civil and Administration; each of which is responsible for several sub-units which together combine to the meet the goals and the objectives of the Department. The Department is divided into four budget programs, Criminal Civil, General, and the Bureau of Criminal Bureau of Identification. The Department of Attorney General is the central legal agency of the State. The Department is responsible for prosecution of all felony criminal cases and misdemeanor appeals as well as prosecution of misdemeanor cases brought by State law enforcement action in the various district courts. Additionally, as chief legal officer of the State, the Attorney General has responsibilities beyond criminal prosecution. The Attorney General represents all agencies, departments, and commissions in litigation and initiates legal action where necessary to protect the interests of Rhode Island citizens. These matters range from gas, electric and telephone company rates before the Public Utilities Commission, health insurance rates cases, environmental issues, protecting the public’s rights under the Open Meetings Act and the Access to Public Records Act, to protecting consumers from deceptive practices and antitrust violations. The Attorney General provides legal advice to state officers and state agencies whenever requested. The Department of Attorney General is also charged with operating and maintaining the State Bureau of Criminal Identification, which is the central repository for all criminal records in the State.