Oregon Attorney General

The Oregon Attorney General is a statutory office within the executive branch of the state of Oregon, and serves as the chief legal officer of the state, heading its Department of Justice with its six operating divisions.[1] The attorney general is chosen by statewide partisan election to serve a term of four years. The incumbent, Ellen Rosenblum, was sworn in on June 29, 2012, replacing John Kroger, a Democrat who was elected in 2008 and resigned six months before the end of his term to become President of Reed College.[2][3] She was re-elected in 2016.[4]

Oregon Attorney General
Oregon state seal.png
Great Seal of the State of Oregon
Details of Office
Selection:Statewide election
Term:4 years
Name:Ellen Rosenblum
Term ends:2020


The attorney general represents the state of Oregon in all court actions and other legal proceedings in which it is a party or has an interest. They also conduct all legal business of state departments, boards and commissions that require legal counsel. Ballot titles for measures in Oregon elections are written by the attorney general, who also and appoints the assistant attorneys general who serve as counsel to the various state departments, boards and commissions.[5]

The attorney general provides written opinions upon any question of law in which any government entity within the state may have an interest when requested by the governor, any state agency official or any member of the legislature, but is prohibited by law from rendering opinions or giving legal advice to any other persons or agencies.[5]


Original 1891 mandateEdit

Cicero M. Idleman, 2nd Attorney General

An Act to Create the Office of Attorney-General, Provide the Duties and fix the Compensation, was enacted by the state legislature in 1891. Oregon's is only one of five state offices of Attorney General created by statute rather than by a provision of the constitution. The act established elections for the office, to be held every four years, any vacancy in the office to be filled by the governor until the next general election.[6]

The act provided that the attorney general be charged with litigating on behalf of the state, any "breach of contract, any bond or contract in which the state was interested," at the request of the governor, secretary of state, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, or any state board. The attorney general was also to prosecute or defend all matters of interest to the state in the Supreme Court. Upon request, they could provide counsel and advice to county district attorneys. A requirement was also included for the keeping of records of opinions and official proceedings for future successors.[6]

Criminal investigation and prosecution was not included in the original mandate for the office, but remained with the various county district attorneys. The office was also charged with the preparation of contracts, bonds, and other documents when requested.[6]

1947 reorganizationEdit

The role of the attorney general was greatly expanded, when the legislature created the Department of Justice and placed the attorney general at its head with the passage of An Act Creating the department of justice, prescribing its jurisdiction, and defining the powers and duties of the attorney general.[6]

In addition to the attorney general's existing role as attorney in all state-related supreme court cases, the act added that, when required by the governor or legislature, he would appear for the state in any court or tribunal.[6]

Through the newly created Justice Department, the attorney general would now have control and supervision of all civil actions and legal proceedings in which the state was a party or interested. The office was also given full control of all the legal business of all state offices, legal services performed by outside counsel being specifically prohibited.[6]

The attorney general's relationship to district attorneys was also expanded to include authority to require their assistance in cases brought before the Supreme Court from their respective counties. The act provided authority to take charge of any investigation or prosecution in which the circuit court had jurisdiction, when directed by the governor. This provision provided the attorney general all the powers of a district attorney, including the calling of the county grand jury to convene.[6]

The act also created the office of deputy attorney general, appointed by the attorney general with full authority to act on their behalf, and provided statutory, discretionary authority for the appointment of assistant attorneys general.[6]

Later developmentsEdit

The attorney general was provided with subpoena power in criminal investigations in 1993, and in 2002, the office was given additional powers relative to investigation and prosecution in organized crime cases.[6]

List of attorneys general of OregonEdit

The following table provides a list of the individuals who have served as Oregon Attorney General, with party affiliation and dates of service.[6]

# Name Party Term Notes
1 George E. Chamberlain Democratic May 20, 1891 – January 14, 1895 Appointed by Gov. Pennoyer, elected June 1892
2 Cicero M. Idleman Republican January 1, 1895 – January 9, 1899 Elected June 1894
3 D. R. N. Blackburn Republican January 9, 1899 – January 12, 1903 Elected June 1898
4 Andrew M. Crawford Republican January 13, 1903 – January 3, 1915 Elected June 1902, reelected 1906, 1910
5 George M. Brown Republican January 4, 1915 – October 14, 1920 Elected Nov. 1914, reelected 1920, resigned
6 Isaac H. Van Winkle Republican October 14, 1920 – December 14, 1943 Appointed by Gov. Olcott, elected Nov. 1920, reelected 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1940, died in office
7 George Neuner Republican December 21, 1943 – January 5, 1953 Appointed by Gov. Snell, elected Nov. 1944, reelected 1948
8 Robert Y. Thornton Democratic January 5, 1953 – May 20, 1969 Elected Nov. 1952, reelected 1956, 1960, 1964
9 Lee Johnson Republican May 20, 1969 – January 3, 1977 Elected Nov. 1968, reelected 1972
10 James A. Redden Democratic January 3, 1977 – March 24, 1980 Elected Nov. 1976
11 James M. Brown Democratic March 24, 1980 – January 4, 1981 Appointed by Gov. Atiyeh
12 David B. Frohnmayer Republican January 5, 1981 – December 31, 1991 Elected Nov. 1980, reelected 1984, 1988, resigned
13 Charles S. Crookham Republican January 2, 1992 – January 3, 1993 Appointed by Gov. Roberts
14 Ted Kulongoski Democratic January 4, 1993 – January 4, 1997 Elected Nov. 1992
15 Hardy Myers Democratic January 4, 1997 – January 5, 2009 Elected Nov. 1996, reelected 2000, 2004
16 John Kroger Democratic January 5, 2009 – June 29, 2012 Elected Nov. 2008, resigned
17 Ellen Rosenblum Democratic June 29, 2012–present Appointed by Gov. Kitzhaber, elected Nov. 2012

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ ORS Ch. 180
  2. ^ Cole, Michelle (June 6, 2012). "Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber names Ellen Rosenblum as interim attorney general". The Oregonian. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  3. ^ Barron-Lopez, Laura (June 29, 2012). "Ellen Rosenblum becomes Oregon's first woman attorney general". The Oregonian. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  4. ^ "Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum - Oregon Department of Justice". Oregon Department of Justice. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  5. ^ a b "Attorney General Hardy Myers". Oregon Blue Book (Online). Oregon Secretary of State. 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-09.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Oregon Department of Justice - Agency History". Oregon Blue Book (Online). Oregon Secretary of State. 1995. Retrieved 2006-12-09.

External linksEdit