Discussion with Vermont AG Bill Sorrell and Indiana AG Greg Zoeller
Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell (left) and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller (right) visited the Program on October 6, 2009 to discuss their widely varying experiences as attorneys in public life on their paths to becoming attorneys general. The discussion is introduced by Ellen Chapnick, Dean of Social Justice Initiatives at Columbia Law School, and James E. Tierney, director of the National State Attorneys General Program and former Attorney General of Maine. View the discussion below:
Ethics & the Attorney General
In March and June 2008, National State Attorneys General Program Director James E. Tierney conducted interactive ethics presentations at the Spring and Summer Meetings of the National Association of Attorneys General. Tierney’s presentations involve substantial discussion from attorneys general, senior assistant attorneys general and former attorneys general.
Proceeding from the observation that the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility were drafted to provide a comprehensive set of ethical rules for private sector lawyers, Tierney notes that the underlying theme of these private sector Rules – zealous advocacy for easily identified clients – has never been an easy fit for state attorneys general whose responsibilities exist under state constitutions, state and federal law and, in the majority of states, the common law. The sessions explore various ethical dilemmas faced daily by state attorneys general and their staffs. He also discusses how the private sector, in light of Sarbannes-Oxley, is grappling with parallel issues in the corporate world.
The National State Attorneys General Program was privileged to host a series of guest speakers at Columbia Law School. Guests included the current Attorney General of Montana, Steve Bullock, '94, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, former New York Attorney General Robert Abrams, former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey, '84, former New Hampshire Attorney General and Governor Stephen Merrill, and former Deputy White House Counsel and Ohio Solicitor General Professor Bill Marshall.
Powers & Duties
In this brief overview video, Prof. Jim Tierney discusses the fundamental powers and duties of the state attorney general, the attorney general's role in state government, and contrasts the state and federal attorneys general.
Prof. Tierney explains the role of state attorneys general in protecting consumers. He discusses both the historical pattern of cooperation between state and federal government in consumer protection as well as the current tension between state and federal government over the role of government in this arena.
The recent Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA demonstrates the critical role of state attorneys general in protecting our environment and enforcing federal regulations. In this video, Prof. Tierney explains the role of state attorneys general in advising state agencies on environmental regulations, enforcing environmental rules, and prosecuting violators.