In preparation for California’s upcoming Primary election, we are releasing a quick background of each of the Constitutional Officers and what they actually do in the California government.

Today, we are covering the California Attorney General.

The current Attorney General is Xavier Becerra who was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to finish the term of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris after her election to U.S. Senate in 2016.

The Attorney General is classified as the chief law officer of the State and is sometimes colloquially referred to as California’s “Top Cop.” The Attorney General is required to see that the laws of the State are uniformly and adequately enforced. They have direct supervision over every District Attorney, Sheriff, and other law enforcement officers. Whenever any law of the State is not being adequately enforced in any county, the Attorney General must prosecute any violations of law of which the superior court has jurisdiction, and in such cases the Attorney General shall have all the powers of a district attorney.

The Attorney General represents the People of California in civil and criminal matters before trial courts, appellate courts and the Supreme Courts of California and the United States. He or she also assists District Attorneys, local law enforcement and federal and international criminal justice agencies in the administration of justice.

It is also the duty of the Attorney General to manage programs and special projects to detect and crack down on fraudulent, unfair and illegal activities that victimize consumers or threaten public safety. A well-known example of this being Megan’s Law, which requires a publicly available registry of specified sex offenders.

The Attorney General, like the Secretary of State, is also involved in the State Ballot Measures.  Once a proposed initiative measure has been written, the proponents of the initiative must submit a draft of the proposed initiative measure to the Attorney General. He or she will then prepare a circulating title and summary of the main purpose and points of the proposed initiative measure as required by the California Elections Code § 9001(a). The Attorney General also initiates a public review process for the measures and submits the measure to the houses in the Legislature.

Molly Alcorn contributed to this post.

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