As part of the state executive branch, the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General handles the various legal matters impacting our state, including, but not limited to, important areas such as consumer protection, civil rights, tax & revenue, criminal appeals, and other critical litigation involving the state.
For a complete description of the various divisions within the Attorney General's Office, click on any of the division links below.
The Appellate Division of the Attorney General's Office represents the State of West Virginia in criminal matters before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and in the various Federal courts. Our offices are in the Main Office of the Attorney General, at the State Capitol. Attorneys in the Appellate Division brief and argue appeals from circuit court criminal convictions and denials of writs of habeas corpus, and defend original jurisdiction prohibition, mandamus and post-conviction habeas corpus petitions filed with the West Virginia Supreme Court in criminal cases. Our attorneys also defend the State in federal habeas corpus proceedings filed by State prisoners under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of West Virginia, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States. Appellate Division attorneys provide advice to county prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement officers regarding criminal law and procedure, and may answer requests for Attorney General opinions if assigned to them. The Contracts Section of the Appellate Division is responsible for the approval of State contracts, deeds and leases, surety bonds posted with State agencies, local government bond issues, and municipal charters for the Attorney General.
The Civil Rights Division prosecutes cases on behalf of victims of discrimination. In West Virginia unlawful discrimination is a Human Rights violation. The Civil Rights Division handles cases of employment discrimination, housing discrimination, public accommodation discrimination, and bias motivated harassment and intimidation. The Civil Rights Division enforces the West Virginia Human Rights Act and the West Virginia Fair Housing Act. The Human Rights Act makes it unlawful for any employer to discriminate against any person in the terms and condition of employment because of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, blindness or disability. The West Virginia Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing against any person because of race, color, religion, ancestry, sex, familial status, blindness, handicap or national origin. The West Virginia Human Rights Act also prohibits discrimination by the owner or manager of any place of public accommodation to discriminate against any person because of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, blindness or disability. The Attorney General is also authorized under the West Virginia Human Rights Act to seek a court order to protect any person who is the victim of violence or the threat or violence because of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, blindness or disability.
The Attorney General's Consumer Protection division works to protect West Virginia consumers and citizens against consumer related fraud on many levels as well as focusing on fair, safe business practices for individuals and companies doing business in the State of West Virginia.
The first step for consumers who believe that they have been the victim of unlawful practices in the purchases of goods and services is to fill out a Consumer Complaint Form and return it to the West Virginia Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. Individuals with questions about a complaint, or in need further assistance, are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's Office by calling our Consumer Hotline at 1-800-368-8808.
The Education Arts & Boards Division of the West Virginia Attorney General's Office represents a hodgepodge of agencies, boards and commissions that is hard to categorize. We also represent about thirty professional and occupational licensing boards and commissions. These boards and commissions regulate the practice of various professions and occupations which range from accountants, to registered nurses, to real estate appraisers, to land surveyors to veterinarians. Our job in representing these boards and commissions is primarily centered around representing them in administrative hearings to take disciplinary action against licensees that have committed an infraction of some sort. These infractions also include professional malpractice to unethical behavior under the standards that govern a particular profession. The vast majority of these disciplinary cases are "settled" before they go to an administrative hearing. They are usually settled by "consent agreement" wherein the licensee agrees to submit to some sort of discipline against his or her license. The discipline ranges from a reprimand up to revocation or a surrender of the person's license to practice. We also provide legal counsel/advice to many of these boards and commissions on a whole host of issues confronting government regulatory agencies.
The responsibility of the Workers' Compensation Litigation Division is to defend decisions made by the Workers' Compensation Commission (now the Office of Insurance Commissioner as administrator of the Old Fund through its third party administrator, BrickStreet Administrative Services and/or Cambridge Integrated Services). Prior to January 1, 2006, the Division provided defense to workers' compensation claims, as directed by the client, in protests by claimants and/or employers at the Office of Judges, in appeals to the Board of Review, and in appeals to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Although the Division was limited in the types of claim issues that it defended at these levels of the workers' compensation administrative procedure, it was essentially "in-house" attorneys for the Workers' Compensation Commission, its predecessor and successor. Today, with the change in workers' compensation legislation in 2005 which brought about the privatization of the workers' compensation system in West Virginia, the Division now represents the Office of Insurance Commissioner in its capacity as administrator of the Old Fund in all claims' issues. The Old Fund is defined by statute as being any claimant's injury or disease with a date of injury or date of last exposure on or prior to June 30, 2005. The Division also defends uninsured employers' fund claims notwithstanding the date of injury/date of last exposure.
The Attorney General's Department of Health and Human Resources, (AG/DHHR), Division provides litigation counsel in defense of the DHHR in civil matters, various administrative tribunals and all State and Federal courts of record. Our main office is located in Building 3, Room 210 of the State Capitol Complex, and field offices are located throughout the State within the regional offices of the DHHR.
AG/DHHR Division attorneys provide litigation defense against DHHR employee grievances and workers compensation claims, provide litigation counsel to DHHR Bureaus: Children and Families, Behavioral Health, Public Health and Medicaid, and provide general counsel to DHHR Finance and Operations divisions.
The Division represents the Department of Tax and Revenue, the Tax Commissioner, Alcohol Beverage and Control Commissioner, Department of Motor Vehicles, Lottery, Racing Commission, Department of Environmental Protection, as well as representing the State in the Court of Claims and at Workers' Compensation Hearings. This representation often begins early, at the administrative level and sometimes extends as far as the Supreme Court (both state and federal), with considerable work at all levels in between.
The work of this Division involves everything from rendering legal advice to client agencies concerning their everyday operation, to discovery-oriented, fact-intensive litigation concerning construction and employment contracts, to research-oriented litigation involving purely legal issues of statutory and constitutional interpretation.