List of Attorneys General of West Virginia
|Attorney General of West Virginia|
|Seat||Building 1, Room E-26
West Virginia Capitol Complex
Charleston, West Virginia
|Term length||Four years|
|Inaugural holder||Aquilla B. Caldwell|
|Formation||June 20, 1863|
|Salary||$95,000 per year (2012)|
The Attorney General of West Virginia is the chief legal advisor to the West Virginia state government and is the state's chief law enforcement officer. The office was created by Article VII, Section 1 of the first Constitution of West Virginia in 1863. Under the current state constitution (1872), the attorney general is an executive department-level state constitutional officer, along with the governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, and commissioner of agriculture. The attorney general is the ex officio reporter of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. The constitution further specifies that the attorney general shall reside in the seat of state government, Charleston, during their term of office. In Charleston, they are to maintain public records, books, and papers pertaining to their office, and perform all duties prescribed by state law. As of 2012, the attorney general receives a salary of $95,000 per year.
The attorney general gives their written opinions and advice upon questions of law to state officials, heads of state institutions, and prosecuting attorneys. They are also responsible for all litigation on behalf of the state government and state agencies and departments. The attorney general represents the state in all claims processed by the Court of Claims, prosecutes civil actions as prescribed by law, enforces the state consumer, antitrust, and preneed burial statutes, enforces the West Virginia Human Rights Act and the West Virginia Fair Housing Act. The attorney general is also an ex officio member of the Board of Public Works, Council of Finance and Administration, Public Land Corporation, West Virginia Housing Fund, West Virginia Sheriff’s Bureau, Department of Public Safety Retirement Board, Bid Suspension Review Board, State Building Commission, Commission on Charitable Contributions, Women’s Commission, Multistate Tax Compact Advisory Committee, Records Management, and Preservation Advisory Committee.
To be eligible for election or appointment to the position, the attorney general candidate must be at least 25 years of age at the beginning of their term of service, and must have been a citizen of West Virginia for at least five years prior to their election or appointment. In 1872, when the second (and current) Constitution of West Virginia was enacted, the constitution averred that citizens residing in the state at the time of its enactment were also authorized to be elected or appointed as attorney general, regardless of the length of the residency in West Virginia. Their election can be held at any time as prescribed by law. The attorney general's term of office is four years and commences on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of the month of January following their election. If the office of attorney general should become vacant on account of death, resignation, or otherwise, the governor is authorized to select an appointee to hold that office until a successor can be elected and qualified.
Since West Virginia became a state on June 20, 1863, it has had 34 attorneys general, of whom 33 men have held the office (the inaugural attorney general, Aquilla B. Caldwell of Ohio County, served two nonconsecutive terms). Caldwell was the first Republican to hold the office, and Joseph Spriggs of Hampshire County was the first Democrat. The state's penultimate attorney general, Darrell McGraw, was the longest-serving attorney general and served the most consecutive terms after being elected to the office five times. The current attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, began his term on January 14, 2013 and is the first Republican to hold the office in 80 years since Howard B. Lee in 1933 and the first from Jefferson County. Six attorney generals have served as Governor of West Virginia.
List of Attorneys General
|#||Attorney General||Term start[a]||Term end[a]||Party||County of residence|
|1||Aquilla B. Caldwell[b]||June 20, 1863||December 31, 1864||Republican||Ohio|
|2||Ephraim B. Hall||January 1, 1865||December 31, 1865||Republican||Marion|
|3||Edwin Maxwell[c]||January 1, 1866||December 31, 1866||Republican||Harrison|
|4||Thayer Melvin||January 1, 1867||July 1, 1869||Republican||Ohio|
|5||Aquilla B. Caldwell[d]||July 2, 1869||December 31, 1870||Republican||Ohio|
|6||Joseph Spriggs||January 1, 1871||December 31, 1872||Democratic||Hampshire|
|7||Henry M. Mathews||January 1, 1873||March 3, 1877||Democratic||Greenbrier|
|8||Robert White||March 4, 1877||March 3, 1881||Democratic||Hampshire|
|9||Cornelius Clarkson Watts||March 4, 1881||March 3, 1885||Democratic||Kanawha|
|10||Alfred Caldwell||March 4, 1885||March 3, 1893||Democratic||Ohio|
|11||Thomas S. Riley||March 4, 1893||March 3, 1897||Democratic||Ohio|
|12||Edgar P. Rucker||March 4, 1897||March 3, 1901||Republican||McDowell|
|13||Romeo H. Freer||March 4, 1901||March 3, 1905||Republican||Ritchie|
|14||Clark W. May||March 4, 1905||April 25, 1908||Republican||Lincoln|
|15||William G. Conley[e]||May 9, 1908||March 3, 1913||Republican||Preston|
|16||Armistead Abraham Lilly||March 4, 1913||March 3, 1917||Republican||Raleigh|
|17||Edward T. England||March 4, 1917||March 3, 1925||Republican||Logan|
|18||Howard B. Lee||March 4, 1925||March 3, 1933||Republican||Mercer|
|19||Homer A. Holt||March 4, 1933||January 18, 1937||Democratic||Fayette|
|20||Clarence W. Meadows[f]||January 18, 1937||May 16, 1942||Democratic||Raleigh|
|21||William S. Wysong[f]||May 25, 1942||January 13, 1943||Democratic||Webster|
|22||James Kay Thomas[g]||January 13, 1943||January 15, 1945||Democratic||Kanawha|
|23||Ira J. Partlow[h]||January 15, 1945||November 7, 1949||Democratic||McDowell|
|24||William C. Marland[h]||December 1, 1949||February 1, 1952||Democratic||Wyoming|
|25||Chauncey H. Browning, Sr.[i]||February 1, 1952||August 16, 1952||Democratic||Logan|
|26||John G. Fox[j]||August 16, 1952||January 14, 1957||Democratic||Fayette|
|27||W. W. Barron||January 14, 1957||January 16, 1961||Democratic||Randolph|
|28||C. Donald Robertson||January 16, 1961||January 13, 1969||Democratic||Harrison|
|29||Chauncey H. Browning, Jr.||January 13, 1969||January 14, 1985||Democratic||Logan|
|30||Charlie Brown||January 14, 1985||August 21, 1989||Democratic||Kanawha|
|31||Roger W. Tompkins[k]||September 5, 1989||January 14, 1991||Democratic||Kanawha|
|32||Mario Palumbo[l]||January 14, 1991||January 18, 1993||Democratic||Kanawha|
|33||Darrell McGraw||January 18, 1993||January 14, 2013||Democratic||Wyoming|
|34||Patrick Morrisey||January 14, 2013||Incumbent||Republican||Jefferson|
Other high offices held
This is a table of other high offices held by attorney generals.
- † Denotes those offices in which the attorney general resigned to run for governor.
|Attorney General||Governor||U.S. House|
|Henry M. Mathews||G||—|
|Romeo H. Freer||—||H|
|William G. Conley||G||—|
|Edward T. England||—||H|
|Homer A. Holt||G||—|
|Clarence W. Meadows||G||—|
|William C. Marland||G†||—|
|W. W. Barron||G||—|
- From 1865 until 1873, attorney generals were sworn into office on January 1; and from 1877 until 1933, they were sworn into office on March 4. From 1937 until the present, attorney general terms begin on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of the month of January following their election.
- Aquilla B. Caldwell was elected attorney general on May 28, 1863, but did not take office until statehood on June 20, 1863.
- Edwin Maxwell was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Ephraim B. Hall on December 31, 1865 and served in the position until December 31, 1866.
- Aquilla B. Caldwell was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Thayer Melvin on July 1, 1869.
- William G. Conley was appointed on May 9, 1908 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Clark W. May on April 25, 1908. Conley was elected to fill the remainder of the term, and for the regular term beginning on March 4, 1909.
- William S. Wysong was appointed on May 24, 1942 to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Clarence W. Meadows on May 16, 1942. Ira J. Partlow became the acting attorney general on May 18, 1952, and Wysong was sworn into the office on May 25, 1942.
- James Kay Thomas was elected on November 3, 1942 to fill the remainder of the unexpired term of Clarence W. Meadows. Thomas was sworn in as attorney general on January 13, 1943.
- Ira J. Partlow resigned on November 7, 1949, and that same day, William C. Marland was appointed to fill the position. Marland was sworn in on December 1, 1949 to fill the vacancy and was elected in 1950 to fill the remainder of the Partlow's unexpired term.
- William C. Marland announced his resignation on January 30, 1952 to run for election as governor, and his resignation was effective February 1, 1952. Chauncey H. Browning, Sr. was sworn in on February 1, 1952 to fill the vacancy caused by Marland's resignation. Browning served in the position until August 16, 1952, at which time John G. Fox was appointed as Browning's replacement.
- John G. Fox was appointed as the replacement for Chauncey H. Browning, Sr. on August 16, 1952, and was elected to a full term in November 1952, after which he was sworn into his full term on January 19, 1953.
- Roger W. Tompkins was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Charlie Brown on August 21, 1989.
- Mario Palumbo was elected to fill the remainder of the unexpired term of Charlie Brown.
- "Office of the West Virginia Attorney General: Contact Us". Office of the West Virginia Attorney General website. Office of the West Virginia Attorney General. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- West Virginia Legislature 2012, p. 28.
- Constitution of West Virginia (1863) Article VII, § 1.
- Constitution of West Virginia (1872) Article VII, § 1. Executive department.
- Constitution of West Virginia (1872) Article IV, § 4. Persons entitled to hold office -- Age requirements.
- Constitution of West Virginia (1872) Article VII, § 2. Election.
- Constitution of West Virginia (1872) Article VII, § 17. Vacancies in other executive departments.
- Lewis 1912, p. 407.
- West Virginia Legislature 2011, p. 328.
- King, Joselyn (November 9, 2012). "New A.G. Calling For Audit: Morrisey wants to see how McGraw spent". The Wheeling Intelligencer and News-Register (Wheeling, West Virginia). Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Harold, Zack (January 25, 2013). "Meet Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia's new attorney general". Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, West Virginia). Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- McVey, John (January 15, 2013). "Morrisey sworn in as attorney general: Becomes first person from Jefferson County elected to the office". The Journal (Martinsburg, West Virginia). Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "West Virginia: Past Governors Bios". National Governors Association website. National Governors Association. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Romeo H. Freer". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Edward T. England". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Atkinson & Gibbens 1890, pp. 37–38.
- West Virginia Attorney General's Office 1918, p. 3.
- West Virginia Legislature 1916, p. 313.
- "Latest by Telegraph: West Virginia.". Civilian & Telegraph (Cumberland, Maryland). June 25, 1863. p. 2. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Wysong Named to Attorney General Post". The Raleigh Register (Beckley, West Virginia). May 24, 1942. p. 1. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "West Virginia Staff Changes Announced". The Evening Review (East Liverpool, Ohio). May 19, 1942. p. 2. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Meadows Will Preside Over Court Monday". The Raleigh Register (Beckley, West Virginia). May 17, 1942. p. 1. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Supreme Court Orders Wysong To Explain Why He Doesn't Quit As Attorney General". The Raleigh Register (Beckley, West Virginia). January 14, 1943. p. 1. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "W. Va. Attorney General Ira J. Partlow Resigns". The Cumberland News (Cumberland, Maryland). November 8, 1949. p. 2. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Glen Rogers Man To Become State Attorney General". Beckley Post-Herald (Beckley, West Virginia). November 8, 1949. p. 2. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Marland Out For Governor: State Atty. Gen. Quits To Conduct Campaign". Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, West Virginia). January 31, 1952. p. 1. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Patteson Fills Marland Post: Oath Administered to Logan Attorney". Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, West Virginia). February 1, 1952. p. 1. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Judicial Conventions Will be Set Saturday". The Raleigh Register (Beckley, West Virginia). August 21, 1952. p. 1. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Mangelsdorf, Phil (January 18, 1953). "Eyes of State Focus on Marland's Inauguration". The Raleigh Register 73 (178) (Beckley, West Virginia). p. 1. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Atkinson, George Wesley; Gibbens, Alvaro Franklin (1890). Prominent Men of West Virginia: Biographical Sketches of Representative Men in Every Honorable Vocation, Including Politics, the Law, Theology, Medicine, Education, Finance, Journalism, Trade, Commerce and Agriculture. Wheeling, West Virginia: W. L. Callin.
- Lewis, Virgil Anson (1912). History and Government of West Virginia. New York City; Cincinnati, Ohio; etc.: American Book Company. OCLC 609213478.
- West Virginia Attorney General's Office (1918). Twenty-Seventh Biennial Report and Official Opinions of the Attorney General of the State of West Virginia. Charleston, West Virginia: Tribune Printing Company. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- West Virginia Legislature (1863). Constitution of West Virginia. West Virginia Legislature. OCLC 767921701. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- West Virginia Legislature (1872). Constitution of West Virginia. West Virginia Legislature. OCLC 48393174. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- West Virginia Legislature; West Virginia Senate (1916). John T. Harris, Clerk of the West Virginia Senate, ed. West Virginia Legislative Hand Book and Manual and Official Register, 1916. Charleston, West Virginia: The Tribune Printing Company. OCLC 301330754.
- West Virginia Legislature; West Virginia Senate (2011). Darrell E. Holmes, Clerk of the West Virginia Senate, ed. West Virginia Blue Book, 2011. Charleston, West Virginia: Chapman Printing.
- West Virginia Legislature; West Virginia Senate (2012). Darrell E. Holmes, Clerk of the West Virginia Senate, ed. West Virginia Blue Book, 2012 (PDF). Charleston, West Virginia: Chapman Printing. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Media related to Attorneys General of West Virginia at Wikimedia Commons
- Office of the West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey