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The Role of the State Attorney General

State of RI v. Lead Industries Ass'n (Track III, A and B) (2008)

State v. Lead Industries Association, Inc, 951 A 2d 428 (R.I. 2008) is a long and complex decision by the Supreme Court of Rhode Island that arose from the decision by the then Attorney General of Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse, to utilize contingent counsel to sue the lead paint industry on a public nuisance theory.  Track III (Section A and B) of that decision traces the evolution of the office of attorney general to England and then to the colonies and the states.  The decision shows how this historical evolution has resulted in the modern legal institution of state attorney general that is uniquely empowered to pursue legal initiatives often alone and separate from other branches of state, local or the federal government.

The issue of the use of contingent counsel in this case is addressed in a later Chapter of this casebook.