The attorney general is not a fourth branch of government in Maine, but that’s the situation that has been allowed to develop. The attorney general has, by law, the duty to represent the governor and the state when asked to do so.

The controlling statute says, in part, “The Attorney General or a deputy, assistant or staff attorney shall appear for the State … in all civil actions and proceedings in which the State is a party or interested … when requested by the Governor or by the Legislature or either House of the Legislature. All such actions and proceedings must be prosecuted or defended by the Attorney General or under the Attorney General’s direction.”

If the chief executive of the state decides to initiate a lawsuit, the attorney general has a duty to represent the state. Period. If the attorney general refuses to perform her duties, the last thing she should be able to do is interfere with the state’s prosecution of its cases without her.

This illustrates why our current method of selecting the attorney general is defective.

Bryan Dench