In 1806, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office was created while Missouri was part of the Louisiana Territory. There have been 42 attorneys general in Missouri since that day over 200-years ago. Though the state’s first Constitution in 1820 provided for an appointed Attorney General, it wasn’t until the 1865 Constitution that the Attorney General became an elected position.
The Attorney General is a member of the following: the Board of Fund Commissioners, the Board of Public Buildings, the Governor’s Committee on Interstate Cooperation, the Missouri Highway Reciprocity Commission, and the Missouri Housing Development Commission.
The main offices of the Attorney General are in the Supreme Court building in Jefferson City. Other offices of the Attorney General are located throughout the state.
Missouri Attorney General
The Missouri Attorney General, currently Eric Schmitt, represents the legal interests of Missouri and its state agencies. As the state’s chief legal officer and acting attorney, the attorney general must prosecute or defend all appeals to which the state is a party, including every felony criminal case appealed to the Supreme Court of Missouri and Missouri Court of Appeals. The Missouri Attorney General is also required to institute, in the name and on behalf of the state, all civil suits and other necessary proceedings to protect the state’s rights, interests, or claims. The attorney general is involved in all or any proceedings that include the state’s interests or appear on behalf of the state in declaratory judgment proceedings when the constitutionality of a statute is challenged.
The attorney general submits official opinions to the executive and legislative branch and the county prosecuting attorneys on law-related questions relating to their duties. To fulfill this and other responsibilities, the attorney general’s office is organized into the following divisions:
Agriculture and Environment Division
The mission of the Agriculture and Environment Division is to “protect Missouri’s natural resources and agricultural productivity.” Attorneys will take legal action to stop pollution of the state’s air, water, and soil and penalize polluters through fines, penalties, and, in the most serious cases, incarceration.
Consumer Protection Division
The attorney general has the responsibility of protecting the public’s interests in an open and honest marketplace. The Consumer Protection Division enforces Missouri’s Consumer Protection Act and antitrust laws and is responsible for representing the commissioner of securities of the secretary of state’s office. Missouri’s consumer protection statutes prohibit deception, fraud, unfair practices, misrepresentation, or concealment of material facts in the sale or advertisement of goods or services.
The attorney general represents the state in all felony cases appealed to the Supreme Court of Missouri and Missouri Court of Appeals. Each year, attorneys in the Criminal Division hear more than 700 cases in the Missouri Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Missouri.
Financial Services Division
This division protects Missourians by recouping money owed to the state or state agencies, including providing collection services to several attorney general’s office divisions and more than 40 other state agencies. Division attorneys also take legal action to establish and maintain child support obligations and work to recover money owed by inmates to reimburse the state for the cost of their care.
Governmental Affairs Division
The Governmental Affairs Division “protects the safety and well-being of Missourians by ensuring that regulated professionals adhere to state laws and disciplinary rules, by enforcing state ethics and campaign finance laws, and by removing caregivers who abuse or neglect vulnerable citizens.”
The Labor Division provides general counsel and litigation services for the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and its officers and agencies. The division also represents the state in wage disputes, crime victims’ claims, and workers’ compensation cases of state employees.
Litigation Division attorneys handle major and complex litigation for Missouri, providing legal defense to state agencies and their employees.
Public Safety Division
The Public Safety Division is involved in a wide range of criminal prosecutions at the trial level. In addition, the division’s special prosecution unit prosecutes or assists in prosecuting cases throughout Missouri, many of them homicide cases.
The workers’ compensation fraud unit prosecutes fraud or misconduct involving workers’ compensation. The Medicaid fraud control unit prosecutes cases involving fraud of the state Medicaid program by health professionals or abuse or neglect of Medicaid recipients by caregivers.
The sexually violent predator unit seeks the civil commitment of sexual predators who suffer from a mental abnormality making them more likely than not to commit additional predatory acts of sexual violence.
Division attorneys also defend the state in all habeas corpus actions filed by prison inmates in state and federal courts. In addition, each year, they litigate some 500 federal habeas corpus actions in the federal district courts, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Current Attorney General: Eric Schmitt