Attorney General of West Virginia

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West Virginia Attorney General
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2013 FY Budget:  $5,941,802
Term limits:  None
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  West Virginia Constitution, Article VII, Section 1
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Patrick J Morrisey.jpg
Name:  Patrick Morrisey
Officeholder Party:  Republican
Assumed office:  January 14, 2013
Compensation:  $95,000
Next election:  November 8, 2016
Last election:  November 6, 2012
Other West Virginia Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources CommissionerSecretary of CommerceCommissioner of LaborPublic Service Commission
The Attorney General of West Virginia is an elected position within the West Virginia state government. The attorney general is the chief legal officer for the state of West Virginia, providing legal representation for all state agencies, officials, commissions and boards.

Current officeholder

The current officeholder is Patrick Morrisey (R). He defeated long serving incumbent Darrell McGraw (D) in the general election on November 6, 2012.


The office of attorney general is established by Article VII of the West Virginia Constitution.

Article VII, Section 1:

The executive department shall consist of a governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, commissioner of agriculture and attorney general...


Article IV, Section 4 of the West Virginia Constitution establishes the qualifications of office as such:

No person, except citizens entitled to vote, shall be elected or appointed to any state, county or municipal office; but the governor and judges must have attained the age of thirty, and the attorney general and senators the age of twenty-five years, at the beginning of their respective terms of service; and must have been citizens of the state for five years next preceding their election or appointment, or be citizens at the time this constitution goes into operation.

  • at least 25 years old
  • a citizen entitled to vote
  • a resident of West Virginia for at least the preceding 5 years


West Virginia state government organizational chart

West Virginia elects attorneys general in presidential election years. The term begins on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of January next after the election.

Term limits

The office of attorney general is not subject to term limits in West Virginia.

Full history


Details of vacancy appointments are addressed under Article VII, Section 17 of the state constitution.

If the office of attorney general becomes vacant, it is the duty of the governor to fill the position by appointment. The appointee serves until a new attorney general is elected.


The office of the attorney general is statutorily bound to represent all state agencies, officials, commissions and boards that request representation in civil matters. There are a number of areas in which the attorney general also bears some responsibility:

  • Legal Opinions - The office provides written legal opinions on issues that have not previously been addressed in the state or federal courts
  • Criminal Appeals - Though the attorney general does not prosecute criminal cases, the office does represent the state in criminal appeals before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
  • Consumer Protection - The office enforces consumer protection laws and provides mediation services to resolve complaints.
  • Civil Rights - The office represents individuals who may have been discriminated against in employment, housing or public accommodations on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, disability, ancestry or national origin.
  • Burial and Funeral Contracts - The office has regulatory oversight over "pre-need" contracts sold to people to pay in advance for funeral and burial expenses.
  • State Purchases - The office must approve the form of all state contracts to purchase goods or services. The office is explicitly forbidden, though, from disapproving a contract that is in proper form, even if the office believes the contract otherwise violates the law.
  • Concealed Weapons - The state assembly granted the attorney general's office authority to enter into agreements to honor concealed weapon permits from other states.

The attorney general and their staff do not:

  • provide legal advice or opinions for private citizens or businesses
  • prosecute criminal cases
  • represent individual consumers
  • investigate state contracts that are in proper form
  • issue permits to carry a concealed weapon[1]


Though the attorney general office's general duties—to represent and provide legal counsel for the state—seem straightforward, it is more difficult to provide that representation and support. In order to handle the demand and the legal nuances of all the state agencies, the office of attorney general is divided into seven divisions. The divisions all do similar work, but each has a distinct focus.[2]

  • The Appellate Division represents the state in criminal matters before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and in federal courts. The attorneys working in this division may provide advice to county prosecutors and law enforcement officials, but they are not involved in criminal proceedings until they reach the appellate level. The contracts section within the division is responsible for approving state contracts.
  • The Civil Rights Division handles civil prosecution of violations of the West Virginia Human Rights Act and the West Virginia Fair Housing Act. The three-fold mission of the division if to undo wrongful acts, get compensation for victims, and prevent future violations of the laws.
  • The Consumer Protection & Anti-Trust Division are responsible for the legal enforcement of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act along with the Preneed Funeral Contracts Act.
  • The Education, Arts & Boards Division is the catch-all division of the office, representing agencies, board, and commissions that do not fall under the purview of another more focused division.
  • The Workers' Compensation Litigation Division Division defends decisions made by the state insurance commissioner.
  • The attorneys working in the Health & Human Resources Division defend the state against employee grievances and workers compensation claims, and provide litigation and general counsel to several bureaus of the Department of Health and Human Resources.
  • The Tax & Revenue, Court of Claims and Transportation Division represents several state agencies and offices in all proceedings, from administrative filings to the state or even federal Supreme Court (in some cases). The attorneys in this division represent the Department of Tax and Revenue, the Tax Commissioner, the Alcohol Beverage and Control Commissioner, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Lottery, the Racing Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection.

State budget

See also: West Virginia state budget and finances

The budget for the attorney general's office in Fiscal Year 2013 was $5,941,802.[3]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers

Article 7, Section 19 of the state constitution defines the method by which the attorney general's compensation is set:

The officers named in this article shall receive for their services a salary to be established by law, which shall not be increased or diminished during their official terms, and they shall not, after they shall not, after the expirations of the terms of those in office at the adoption of this amendment, receive to their own use any fees, costs, perquisites of office or other compensation, and all fees that may hereafter be payable by law, for any service performed by any officer provided for in this article of the Constitution, shall be paid in advance into the state treasury.

Chapter 6, Article 7-2 of the West Virginia Code lays out the exact compensation for certain state officers. According to this section of the state code, the salary of the attorney general, beginning in 2009 and for each calendar year thereafter, shall be $95,000.[4]


In 2014, the attorney general received a salary of $95,000, according to the Council of State Governments.[5]


In 2013, the attorney general's salary remained at $95,000.[6]


In 2012, the attorney general was paid an estimated $95,000. This figure comes from the Council of State Governments.


In 2010, the attorney general was paid an estimated $95,000 according to the Council of State Governments.[7]

Historical officeholders

Summary of past officeholders. Since 1863, West Virginia has had 33 attorneys general. Aquilla B. Caldwell served twice (First and fifth officeholder).

Click "show" for former officeholders.

# Name Took office Left office County
1 Aquilla B. Caldwell 1863 1864 Ohio
2 Ephriam B. Hall 1864 1866 Marion
3 Edwin Maxwell 1866 1866 Harrison
4 Thayer Melvin 1866 1869 Ohio
5 Aquilla B. Caldwell 1869 1870 Ohio
6 Joseph Spriggs 1870 1872 Hampshire
7 Henry Mason Matthews 1872 1876 Greenbrier
8 Robert White 1876 1880 Hampshire
9 Cornelius C. Watts 1880 1884 Kanawha
10 Alfred Caldwell 1884 1892 Ohio
11 Thomas S. Riley 1892 1896 Ohio
12 Edgar P. Rucker 1896 1900 McDowell
13 Romeo H. Freer 1900 1904 Ritchie
14 Clark W. May 1904 1908 Lincoln
15 William G. Conley 1908 1912 Preston
16 A. A. Lilly 1912 1916 Raleigh
17 E. T. England 1916 1924 Logan
18 Howard B. Lee 1924 1932 Mercer
19 Homer A. Holt 1932 1936 Fayette
20 Clarence W. Meadows[8] 1936 1942 Raleigh
21 William S. Wysong[8] 1942 1942 Preston
22 James Kay Thomas[8] 1942 1944 Kanawha
23 Ira J. Partlow 1944 1950 McDowell
24 William C. Martland[9] 1950 1952 Wyoming
25 Chauncey H. Browning, Sr. 1952 1952 Logan
26 John G. Fox 1952 1956 Fayette
27 W. W. Barron 1956 1960 Randolph
28 C. Donald Robertson 1960 1968 Harrison
29 Chauncey H. Browning, Jr. 1968 1984 Logan
30 Charlie Brown[10] 1984 1989 Kanawha
31 Roger W. Tompkins[10] 1989 1990 Kanawha
32 Mario J. Palumbo 1990 1992 Kanawha
33 Darrell V. McGraw, Jr. 1992 2013 Kanawha
34 Patrick Morrisey 2013 present Kanawha

Recent news

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Some of the stories below may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of Google's news search engine.

Attorney General of West Virginia - Google News Feed

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Contact information

West Virginia State Capitol Building 1
Room 26-E
1900 Kanawha Boulevard
Charleston, WV 25305-9924

Phone: 304-558-2021
Fax: 304-558-0140

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. '"West Virginia State Government, "Office of the West Virginia attorney general: Duties and responsibilities," June 7, 2011
  2. West Virginia State Government, "Office divisions," June 7, 2011
  3. West Virginia State Budget Office, "Legislature's Enrolled FY 2013 Budget Bill," accessed April 3, 2013
  4. West Virginia Code, " Retrieved June 20, 2011
  5. Council of State Governments, "SELECTED STATE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS: ANNUAL SALARIES," accessed December 8, 2014
  6. Council of State Governments, Table 4.11 Selected State Administrative Officials: Annual Salaries," accessed January 31, 2014
  7. The Council of State Governments, "The Book of States 2010 Table 4.11," accessed June 7, 2011
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Clarence Meadows was elected to a four-year term in 1940, but resigned on May 15, 1942 upon his judicial appointment to the 10th Judicial Circuit. William Wysong was appointed to the position by then-Governor Neeley, and served until James Kay Thomas was elected to serve for the remainder of Meadows' term.
  9. William Martland resigned on February 1, 1952 in order to run for Governor. Chauncey Browning, Sr. was appointed to the office, and served until August 16, 1952.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Charlie Brown resigned on August 21, 1989. Roger W. Tompkins was appointed on September 5, 1989 to fill the vacancy, and Mario J. Palumbo was elected to serve for the remainder of Brown's term.