Attorney General of Hawaii

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Hawaii Attorney General
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2013-2014 FY Budget:  $73,140,520
Term limits:  None
Length of term:   4 years coterminous with the governor
Authority:  Hawaii Revised Statutes, 26-7
Selection Method:  Appointed by the governor
Current Officeholder
Name:  Doug Chin
Officeholder Party:  Nonpartisan
Assumed office:  March 2015
Compensation:  $140,220
Other Hawaii Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorAttorney GeneralDirector of FinanceAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerDirector of Commerce and Consumer AffairsChairperson of Land and Natural ResourcesDirector of Labor and Industrial RelationsPublic Utilities Commission
The Attorney General of Hawaii is the chief legal and law enforcement officer of the State of Hawaii. He or she is appointed by the governor and is responsible for advising the various agencies and departments of the executive branch, legislative branch and judicial branch of the state government. He or she is also responsible for the prosecution of serious criminal offenses and for advocating the basic rights of Hawaii residents.[1]

Current officeholder

The current attorney general is Doug Chin. He was appointed by Gov. David Ige (D) in January 2015, and confirmed by the state senate in March. Chin succeeded interim officeholder Russell Suzuki, who had been filling the role since former Attorney General David M. Louie's term expired on December 1, 2014. Louie had been appointed by Ige's predecessor, Neil Abercrombie (D), and was not offered a place in Ige's administration.[2][3]


In many states, the office of attorney general is created by the state constitution. Unusually, the Hawaii attorney general is established by statute.[4]

Hawaii Revised Statutes, 26-7

The department of the attorney general shall be headed by a single executive to be known as the attorney general.


Like all state "principal department" heads, the attorney general must be a U.S. citizen and a resident of Hawaii for at least a year before his appointment.

Hawaii Constitution, Article V, Section 6

Every officer appointed under the provisions of this section shall be a citizen of the United States and shall have been a resident of this State for at least one year immediately preceding that person's appointment, except that this residency requirement shall not apply to the president of the University of Hawaii.


Hawaii state government organizational chart

As the head of a principal executive department, the attorney general is appointed by the governor with the consent of the Hawaii Senate. The appointee holds office for a term concurrent with that of the governor, who may also remove him from office at any time. The attorney general is unique among Hawaii's department heads in that his removal by the governor also requires the consent of the Senate.

Hawaii Constitution, Article V, Section 6

Each principal department shall be under the supervision of the governor and, unless otherwise provided in this constitution or by law, shall be headed by a single executive. Such single executive shall be nominated and, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, appointed by the governor. That person shall hold office for a term to expire at the end of the term for which the governor was elected, unless sooner removed by the governor; except that the removal of the chief legal officer of the State shall be subject to the advice and consent of the senate.

Term limits

There are no term limits associated with the office of attorney general.


If a vacancy occurs, the governor appoints a replacement with the consent of the Hawaii Senate. If the state senate is out of session when the vacancy occurs, the governor may appoint a temporary replacement to exercise the powers of attorney general until the legislature reconvenes.


The attorney general is responsible for:

  • Representing the state in civil and criminal cases in which it is a party
  • Investigating violations of state laws
  • Preparing official legal opinions for the governor, the state legislature, and other state agencies
    • Advising state officials on legal matters
  • Defending state employees in matters related to their official duties[5]


  • Administrative
  • Appellate
  • Civil Recoveries
  • Civil Rights Litigation
  • Commerce and Economic Development
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Employment Law
  • Family Law
  • Health and Human Services
  • Labor
  • Land/Transportation
  • Legislative
  • Public Safety, Hawaiian Home Lands, and Housing
  • Tax
  • Tort Litigation
  • Child Support Enforcement
  • Crime Prevention and Justice Assistance
  • Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center
  • Office of Child Support Hearings[6]

State budget

See also: Hawaii state budget and finances

The attorney general's budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 was $73,140,520.[7]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers

The salaries of elected and appointed executives in Hawaii are determined by the Hawaii Commission on Salaries, which was established by constitutional amendment in 2006. Passage of this amendment by the public added the following language to Article XVI of the state constitution:

Article XVI, Section 3.5 of the Hawaii Constitution

Text of Section 3.5:

There shall be a commission on salaries as provided by law, which shall review and recommend salaries for the justices and judges of all state courts, members of the legislature, department heads or executive officers of the executive departments and the deputies or assistants to department heads of the executive departments as provided by law, excluding the University of Hawaii and the department of education. The commission shall also review and make recommendations for the salary of the administrative director of the State or equivalent position and the salary of the governor and the lieutenant governor.

Any salary established pursuant to this section shall not be decreased during a term of office, unless by general law applying to all salaried officers of the State.

Not later than the fortieth legislative day of the 2007 regular legislative session and every six years thereafter, the commission shall submit to the legislature its recommendations and then dissolve.

The recommended salaries submitted shall become effective as provided in the recommendation, unless the legislature disapproves the entire recommendation as a whole by adoption of a concurrent resolution prior to adjournment sine die of the legislative session in which the recommendation is submitted; provided that any change in salary which becomes effective shall not apply to the legislature to which the recommendation for the change in salary was submitted.[8]

The commission consists of seven members selected by the governor (two seats), the President of the Hawaii State Senate (two seats), Speaker of the Hawaii House of Representatives (two seats) and the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court (one seat). Commissioners meet every six years to evaluate salaries for executive, judicial and legislative officials. Their recommendations go into effect unless the Hawaii State Legislature votes to reject the entirety of the commission's final report. The commission last met in November 2012 and made recommendations for official salaries between 2013 and 2018.[9]


In 2014, the attorney general received a salary of $140,220, according to the Council of State Governments.[10]


In 2013, the attorney general received a salary of $114,420. This figure comes from the Council of State Governments.[11]


In 2010, the attorney general received a salary of $114,420.

Historical officeholders

Note: Ballotpedia's state executive officials project researches state official websites for chronological lists of historical officeholders. That information for the Attorney General of Hawaii has not yet been added because the information was unavailable on the relevant state official websites, or we are currently in the process of formatting the list for this office. If you have any additional information about this office for inclusion on this section and/or page, please email us.

Recent news

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Attorney General of Hawaii - Google News Feed

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Contact information

Department of the Attorney General
425 Queen Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Telephone: (808) 586-1500
Fax: (808) 586-1239

See also

External links