History of the Office of Attorney General
Attorneys General were appointed in England as early as 1407, when King Henry IV
authorized Thomas Derham to represent the King, as "Kingís Attorney", in all courts of
the realm. Prior to that time, an attorney was appointed to represent the King in all
courts within a specified geographic region. The Attorney General was the only lawyer
authorized to commence litigation on behalf of the crown, including the crownís
governmental agencies. The position was and remains today an exceedingly high office,
often having constitutional authorization. Thiry-nine states (plus Guam, "GU")
require their attorney general to be elected (i.e., all states other than AL, AK, CO, DC, GA, HI, NH, NJ, PR, TN, VI, VA and WY);
this minority of states, the United States Government, American Samoa (AS), Northern
Mariana Islands (MP), Puerto Rico (PR) and Virgin Islands (VI), authorize or require
their attorney general to be appointed. As of today, there are 6 women holding the
office of state or territorial Attorney General v. 50 male Attorneys General (including the United States Attorney General).
This data was compiled from the website for the states attorneys general,
at www.naag.org/ag/ag_bios.php .
The Attorney General of the United States or of a State is the top legal officer.
He/she renders legal opinions to the President, Governor or other governmental
officers or agencies. The attorney general usually has responsibility under both civil
and criminal law.
When elected to office, the attorney general is able to function more independently
than when appointed to office, and inevitably there will be conflicts with the
Governor. When appointed, the attorney general functions under the President or
Governor and can be fired (readily or as a practical matter) and replaced by the
President or Governor. Accordingly, appointed Attorneys General can be expected to
act according to the wishes of the appointing authority on important matters.
As to the Town Attorney General, all positions would be by appointment, and the
appointed official would be operating to a considerable extent under the political
control of the appointing authority (i.e., mayor, town council or otherwise).
It is possible that by referendum or other voter-oriented proceeding a town could
establish the Town Attorney General as an elective office.
Article for Publication in Magazine for Mayors; Revised for Small-Town Newspaper
You might be interested in reading an article I wrote for the Mayors of New Jersey, for publication in a magazine sent
to all New Jersey mayors, then revised for publication in a New York small-town
newspaper. The article, entitled "Untapped Revenue Sources for New York Towns and
Villages", describes the Town Attorney General and its revenue-producing potential.
The primary prosecutor for the federal government is the United States Attorney for the "District" in which the prosecution takes place.
There are detailed regulations by the Attorney General and the Justice Department
concerning how criminal prosecutions are to be initiated, and with what prior approvals.
At the state level, the Attorney General usually has the power to prosecute criminally,
but most prosecutions are carried out by a "District Attorney" and a staff of Assistant
District Attorneys, who function as officers of the state even though they are paid by
and provided offices and other support services by the County. In some states,
individuals are able to commence a criminal prosecution, but in other states
commencement requires approval by the District Attorney or an Assistant District
Civil Prosecutions (i.e., Lawsuits for Money - or Local Speedtraps for Wrongdoing Multinational Corporations)
Civil lawsuits can be commenced by any "entity" (such as a joint venture, partnership,
human being, corporation, governmental agency, state), and civil actions commenced by a
state generally have an assistant attorney general representing the state. Also,
the state could appoint a special prosecutor or special attorney general to initiate a
criminal or civil action on behalf of the state. Counties, cities and other local
governments generally use a County Attorney, Town Attorney, City Attorney (or in the
case of New York City "Corporation Counsel") to initiate civil litigation. Also, a state,
county, city, town, village or other entity could retain a lawyer to commence a civil
lawsuit without any questions being raised.
You could compare civil prosecution of corporations with law enforcement activities against
motorists: the latter is for money and includes speedtraps and other ways of ensnaring
citizens into abusive ticketing and legal procedures for the primary goal of raising
money for the town, village or other governmental subdivision; the former is a speedtrap
against multinational corporations, which commit far greater crimes but do not drive
automobiles while committing these crimes. The Town Attorney General is your local
sheriff focusing on invisible corporations rather than all-too-visible motorists.
National Association of Attorneys General; Newsletter Describing Settlements
In its newsletter,www.naag.org/ , the National Association of Attorneys General
describes various settlements in which one or more state Attorneys General were involved.
Interestingly, the newsletter lists the various legal areas of concern to their members,
as follows: antitrust, bankruptcy, civil rights, consumer protection, criminal law,
cybercrime, end-of-life health care, environment, legislation, Medicaid fraud, Supreme
Court, tobacco, violence against women. These are some of the areas which a Town Attorney
General should consider when reviewing prospective enforcement activities.
Town Attorney General
A town can have its own "Town Attorney", who often is a lawyer with clients who also
has the town as a client, always having to be sure that he/she has no conflicts because
of the different clients being represented in civil lawsuits.
Most town attorneys, I believe, are better versed in zoning issues and in defending
the town and its employees from claims and lawsuits than in commencing complicated
antitrust or other commercial litigation against major corporations. In fact, the
typical "Town Attorney" probably has never been involved in an antitrust suit, but
could rapidly learn.
Adverse Consequences of All Towns and Villages without an Attorney General
Imagine the complexity of the U.S. tax code and the army of lawyers and CPAís that
provide legal and accounting advice to the multinational corporations enabling them
to pay little if any income taxes to the United States in spite of their ever-growing
revenues. Add to this the output of 180 some odd American Bar Association-approved law
schools training thousands of lawyers each year to go to work for the major corporation
s, both as in-house counsel and with the major law firms in each U.S. city that provide
outside legal representation to all of the large and most medium-size corporations operating
within or engaged in transactions with companies and individuals located in the United
States. The legal expertise involved to protect major corporations is so complicated that for
the past 20 years or longer there has been a steady merger of law firms into
ever-growing law firm giants because of the perceived need to have law firms handle
all sorts of legal problems (as a "full service" firm), with the large law firm
delegating portions of a problem on occasion to a smaller "boutique" law firm
specializing in a narrow field of law.
What Iím driving at is that major corporations have become major corporations because
they have used thousands of lawyers each year to protect the corporate interests and
assets, as against smaller customers, regulatory agencies, and host communities which
lack most of the legal expertise that has enabled the corporations to take assets from
others under color of law, winding up as sales and profits, with little fear that
anyone is going to recognize how the major corporations are violating the law or do
anything about it if they do recognize violations of law.
In this context, we have had an influx of major retailers opening up retail stores throughout
the United States and devastating the locally-owned businesses. The host towns and villages
have been looking for tax revenue to replace the lost taxes and community income being stolen
by the major retailers, and have done very little to investigate and deal with corporate
wrongdoing because of the lack of the needed legal skills. The IRS, for example, has
insufficient personnel or assets to make a complete review of the tax filings of the
multinational corporations, and winds up instead looking (quickly and without much
understanding) at perhaps less than 1/10th of 1% of the documents filed and generally
letting the corporations determine for themselves that they owe no tax (based upon expensive
opinions and planning done by the hordes of lawyers and accountants retained by the
Gray Area Growth
Continued growth by the nationís largest corporations is relatively easy.
They do whatever could be argued is "lawful" and recognize that nobody is going to
challenge them, which enables the major corporations to take more than they should,
and leave their suppliers and customers relatively impoverished, having transferred
their wealth to the major corporations through a variety of business practices which,
upon examination, can be proven are illegal.
Comes the Town Attorney General
Towns and villages throughout the United States are feeling the effects of the
multinationals by reason of the decline in standard of living of the residents;
the reduction in tax revenues received by the town/village; the increase in prices
caused by the monopolies; the increased burden thrust on local communities by the
federal and state governments that are also trying to cope with loss of income from the
multinationals based upon their gray area operations and tax reporting with high-priced
How a Town and Village Can Change Things for the Better
Obviously, the cure for this loss of income and wealth is to have sophisticated legal
assistance to determine the legality of the "gray area" operations that have been
depriving the town or village and its residents and local businesses of jobs,
higher-paying jobs, tax revenues, income (through higher prices), and decline in
property and business values. This is the function of a "Town Attorney General", as I
conceive this position to be.
I am an antitrust and civil rights litigator and have many of the skills and experience
needed to detect corporate wrongdoing and its effect on a community, and how to obtain
recovery for the damages. I am not alone with these skills. There are probably thousands
of antitrust lawyers (most of whom work for the major law firms) who have the skill to
do what I am advocating.
There is a need for each Town and Village to look at its relationship, and the
relationship of its residents and local businesses, with each of the major retailers
making sales to residents or taking away business from local businesses. A Town Attorney
General can do this in the same way that New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer
does this for New York State (without, I might add, sending any of the income he
obtains to the towns and villages which suffered some of the loss directly or through
its residents and local businesses).
Gray Areas Are a 2-Way Street for Profitability - or - As One Maketh Another Can Taketh Away
Working the gray area is the way the nationís major corporations have been wiping out
their competition. The gray area is far more profitable than the wholly
legitimate "white area", because law-abiding businesses generally choose not to play
around in an area in which they could be violating criminal laws. This limits the
amount of competition (and produces higher profitability) for companies deciding that
the reward is worth the risk, especially when you have paid off the politicians to look
the other way and not commence any law-enforcement activities against your gray-area
But gray-area profitability works two ways, and for the nationís towns and villages it
provides a vast area for recovering moneys stolen from the town, its residents and its
locally-owned businesses. By being "gray-area" activities in the first place, the town
starts off with cases in which there are triable issues of fact, i.e., whether the
gray-area activities are illegal under federal or state law.
The approach to be used by the Town Attorney General is to identify the "gray areas" in
which the corporations are operating, and how these gray areas, if found to be illegal
by a jury, have adversely affected the town, its residents and its local businesses.
Price Discrimination Litigation under the Robinson-Patman Act Is a Good Place to Start
The most fertile area to explore is violations of the Robinson-Patman Act, which
prohibits price discrimination by a manufacturer or supplier to competing customers.
All major retailers are demanding and obtaining substantially lower prices from their
suppliers (i.e., manufacturers) than the suppliers are charging to local competitors of
the major retailers. Price discrimination is illegal and entities injured by price
discrimination are entitled to recover treble damages from the major retailers and
their suppliers if certain things are established.
Major Advantage of Price Discrimination Litigation - The Major Retailers Are Demanding and Getting Lower Prices from The Manufacturers Selling to Them - No Need to Investigate - The Difference in Retail Prices Virtually Proves Your Case
Price discrimination litigation starts off with the town and its Town Attorney General
knowing that the major retailer defendant is violating the law, but for one or more
claimed "exemptions" from the statute, such as "meeting competition", "cost
justification" and "functional discount", among others. These defenses create triable
issues of fact which a jury needs to resolve, and in some cases the town will win,
and in other cases the town will lose, but in most cases the parties will settle,
and the multinationals and major retailers will continue doing what they do,
until the volume of litigation gets to the point where it threatens to bankrupt the
manufacturers (which are already on shaky financial grounds because of the fact that
they have been selling below cost to their largest customers).
It is an advantage in litigation knowing from the outset that the defendant is
violating the law, or at least that you know you can develop a triable issue as to
whether the defendant manufacturer or major retailer is entitled to avail itself of
one of the possible defenses under the Robinson-Patman Act. As Town Attorney General
you donít have to spend a lot of time trying to uncover evidence of lower prices.
Even the defendants themselves do not know the per-unit prices at which they are buying
goods from the manufacturers or the per-unit prices at which the manufacturers are selling
goods to the major retailers. The per-unit cost is very complicated to unravel, similar to
a DNA Code. See my article on this at www.lawmall.com/bookcase . The article is entitled
"Now Revealed for First Time - the Secret DNA Code by Which All Major Retail Chains Are
Obtaining Secret Rebates from Invoice Prices to Reduce Their Cost of Goods to about 50% to
60% of What Their Independent Competitors Are Paying for the Same Goods".
Wolf-Pack Justice Is Needed
A group of Town Attorney Generals, operating as a "wolfpack" in fashion similar to
the statesí attorneys general, can decide to eliminate price discrimination in a
specific industry, such as beverages or appliances or auto parts, and commence
lawsuits throughout the United States against errant manufacturers until the effect
of such lawsuits reaches the level of impact that the Federal Trade Commission had,
before the Nixon Administration, in their rigid enforcement of the Robinson-Patman Act.
In effect, a group of Town Attorneys General can exercise for their respective
communities the abandoned powers of the federal government to enforce the nationís
antitrust laws. "Wolfpack" combat was used too successfully during the Second World
War by the German submarine commanders who would operate as a "wolfpack" and gang up
on individual convoys of ships from the United States (or elsewhere) attempting to
resupply England. The United States was able to stop this by breaking the German
Until the manufacturers stop their price discrimination, by switching back to a
published price list from the current system of secret negotiations and secret pricing
and below-cost selling, the towns and villages will make a substantial amount of money
in their lawsuits to protect the interests of the town and its residents and local
businesses. When the manufacturers stop violating the law, the town, and its
residents and locally-owned businesses, will be able to make money the old fashioned
way, through the financially-successful residents and local businesses that will result
when the destructive price discrimination practices of the major retailers and their
suppliers are brought to an end.
Other Revenue-Producing Areas of Law for the Town Attorney General to Consider
There are various other laws for profitable enforcement by the Town Attorney General, including:
- State antitrust laws
- State laws prohibiting deceptive or misleading advertising
- Fraud, misrepresentation, and fraudulent omission
- Allocation of sales tax revenues
- Imposing employee healthcare costs on the community
- Illegal hiring of immigrants
- Illegal outsourcing which steals jobs from the community
- Breach of representations and warranties made when obtaining zoning variations
- Purchasing of jobs by one community, which unfairly deprives another community of its existing jobs, and provides huge sums of unearned money to corporations trafficking in local jobs
There are many more areas for profitable litigation, and each community needs to have a review of its relationship with major businesses operating in the area to determine what claims to bring in the lawsuits designed to take back what the multinationals are taking illegally from the town and its residents and local businesses.
Saving Main Street and Its Retailers Is Must Reading for Anyone Wanting to Understand How Multinationals Are Stealing the Wealth and Opportunity from Towns and Villages and Their Residents and Local Businesses
My book, Saving Main Street and Its Retailers, explains all of this in greater detail, and is must reading for anyone wanting to stop destruction of the middle class. The book explains how globalization (or so it does seem to me) to be no more than the result of a federal policy of non-enforcement of the nationís antitrust laws, enabling major retailers and others to operate in the gray area without the government coming in to challenge any of the gray-area practices.
The Town Attorney General Will Provided Needed Competition in Many Areas
As I see it, a Town Attorney General will create healthy competition in fighting
gray-area corporate practices for the profit of the town, and its residents and local
businesses, which have lost much of their assets and opportunities to these gray area
Also, there will be competition among lawyers wanting to become the Town Attorney
General, as well as competition among individuals wanting to become mayor, who now
have the appealing argument that "If elected, I will appoint and supervise a Town
Attorney General to go after the monopolists and produce enough revenue from the
lawsuits to provide FREE healthcare, FREE dental care, FREE prescription drugs, and
REDUCED real estate taxes for residents of the town."
The greater the number of candidates, the longer the list of benefits to be promised by
the candidate, with the result that the Town Attorney General is going to become a
valuable, busy profit center for the Town, and a creator of highly skilled individuals
in the community (including lawyers, law-office managers, paralegals, litigation
assistants, legal secretaries, litigation support personnel, economists, accountants,
other experts, and persons dreaming up new ways to spend the new revenues pouring into
An interesting sidelight is that when a community focuses on collecting the money owed
to it, and its residents and locally-owned businesses, there will be far less emphasis
upon using criminal prosecutions. Criminal prosecutions are costly for the community
and provide no net revenue, and wind up putting innocent people in jail and depriving
many persons of the right to vote. By concentrating on the benefits available through
the Office of the Town Attorney General, including the political contests to see who
can do the most for the town, there will be a natural reduction of criminal prosecutions,
which to a great extent are wholly unfair and designed to turn prosecutors into
politicians, at the expense of justice. See my four websites on prosecutorial abuse,
Did you know that
in the Southern District of
New York 98% of the persons indicted for an alleged crime plead guilty, and that
perhaps 3/4ths or more of the remaining 2% (including Martha Stewart and various
chieftains of organized crime) are found guilty at trial? We no longer need judges.
The mere indictment put almost everyone away! The Town Attorney General should help
to change this wholly unfair criminal justice system by providing a more meaningful
type of action to pursue for personal political reasons.
Speed Traps for Invisible, Incorporeal Corporations - Can Be Expected to Produce about $5,000 to $10,000 in New Revenue Per Family Per Year for the Town or Village
Towns and villages know how to obtain revenue by setting up and working speed traps
for motorists, but this is penny ante stuff. The towns and villages should be setting
up "speed traps" for large corporations (being invisibleo r "incorporeal", or without
body), to detect wrongdoing and commence appropriate litigation to recover money for
the town. Community fines against individuals (for parking, speeding and smoking) will
probably not amount to more than $200 per family per year (and this is just a guess),
but going after errant multinational corporations can easily result in new income to
the town amounting to about $5,000 to $10,000 per family per year, and probably with
little or no outlay of money by the town. In fact, the town should be able to use a
positive cash flow to increase these outlined civil enforcement activities.
How to Obtain Appointment of a Town Attorney General in Your Town or Village
The best way for you to obtain appointment of a Town Attorney General in your town or village should include the following things for you to do:
- Talk with me, Carl Person, for ideas and assistance;
- Distribute Saving Main Street and Its Retailers through locally-owned retail stores;
- Give copies of the book to the mayor, town manager, town council and town attorney;
- Speak with these town officials to get them to listen to a presentation by Carl E. Person town (or someone else) to be appointed as Town Attorney General for the town;
- Get the owners, publishers and mangers of the local newspaper and radio station to back the project;
- Have one or more public hearings or town hall meetings at which Carl E. Person will discuss his Town Attorney General concept and how it can be implemented by the town;
- Publicize your meetings and urge appointment of a Town Attorney General through locally-owned media; and
- Request that I supply without charge a PDF copy of the book for emailing to all
residents having a known email address (a request that I probably will grant,
but I want to consider each proposal on its own merits) or for an appropriate (low)
charge a hard copy of the book for delivery to most residents and businesses as
an "insert" in the townís local, independently-owned newspaper.
© Copyright 2005 by Carl E. Person