Attorney General of California

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Attorney General of California
Seal of the attorney general of California
AG Rob Bonta official (cropped).jpg
Rob Bonta

since April 23, 2021
Department of Justice
StyleThe Honorable
Term lengthFour years, two term limit
Inaugural holderEdward J. C. Kewen
FormationCalifornia Constitution

The attorney general of California is the state attorney general of the Government of California. The officer's duty is to ensure that "the laws of the state are uniformly and adequately enforced" (Constitution of California, Article V, Section 13). The California attorney general carries out the responsibilities of the office through the California Department of Justice. The department employs over 1,100 attorneys and 3,700 non-attorney employees.[citation needed]

The California attorney general is elected to a four-year term, with a maximum of two terms. The election is held at the same statewide election as the governor, lieutenant governor, controller, secretary of state, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, and insurance commissioner. A few individual attorneys general have gone on to higher offices on the state and federal level, including the offices of governor, United States Senator, chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, and vice president of the United States.

On March 24, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he would be appointing Rob Bonta as attorney general to succeed Xavier Becerra, who resigned the position to become Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Joe Biden. Bonta's appointment was subject to confirmation by both houses of the California State Legislature, and he was sworn in on April 23, 2021.[1][2][3]


The California attorney general's main office in Sacramento is housed in this building

According to the state Constitution, the Code of Civil Procedure, and the Government Code, the attorney general:

  • As the state's chief law officer, ensures that the laws of the state are uniformly and adequately enforced.[4]
  • Heads the Department of Justice, which is responsible for providing state legal services and support for local law enforcement.[5]
  • Acts as the chief counsel in state litigation.[6]
  • Oversees law enforcement agencies, including district attorneys and sheriffs.[4]


Although the office of attorney general dates to the admission of California to the Union, the office in its modern form dates to Proposition 4 of 1934,[7] sponsored by Alameda County District Attorney Earl Warren as one of four initiatives he sponsored to substantially reform law enforcement and the judiciary. Previously, the attorney general lacked jurisdiction over matters in the jurisdiction of locally elected district attorneys and sheriffs.[8] Warren went on to become attorney general himself in 1938, reorganizing's the state's law enforcement into districts.


List of attorneys general of California[edit]

# Name Took office Left office Party
1 Edward J. C. Kewen 1849 1850 Democratic
2 James A. McDougall 1850 1851 Democratic
3 S. Clinton Hastings 1852 1854 Democratic
4 John R. McConnell 1854 1856 Democratic
5 William M. Stewart
Acting for McConnell
1854 1854 Democratic
6 William T. Wallace 1856 1858 American
7 Thomas H. Williams 1858 1862 Democratic
8 Frank M. Pixley 1862 1863 Republican
9 John G. McCullough 1863 1867 Union
10 Jo Hamilton 1867 1871 Democratic
11 John Lord Love 1871 1875 Republican
12 Jo Hamilton 1875 1880 Democratic
13 Augustus L. Hart 1880 1883 Republican
14 Edward C. Marshall 1883 1887 Democratic
15 George A. Johnson 1887 1891 Democratic
16 William H. H. Hart 1891 1895 Republican
17 William F. Fitzgerald 1895 1899 Republican
18 Tirey L. Ford 1899 1902 Republican
19 Ulysses S. Webb 1902 1939 Republican
20 Earl Warren 1939 1943 Republican
21 Robert W. Kenny 1943 1947 Democratic
22 Frederick N. Howser 1947 1951 Republican
23 Pat Brown 1951 1959 Democratic
24 Stanley Mosk 1959 1964 Democratic
25 Thomas C. Lynch 1964 1971 Democratic
26 Evelle J. Younger 1971 1979 Republican
27 George Deukmejian 1979 1983 Republican
28 John Van de Kamp 1983 1991 Democratic
29 Dan Lungren 1991 1999 Republican
30 Bill Lockyer 1999 2007 Democratic
31 Jerry Brown 2007 2011 Democratic
32 Kamala Harris 2011 2017 Democratic
33 Xavier Becerra 2017 2021 Democratic
34 Rob Bonta 2021 Present Democratic
Major other offices held


  1. ^ "Rob Bonta, Bay Area Democratic lawmaker, appointed California attorney general". Los Angeles Times. March 24, 2021. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  2. ^ Hubler, Shawn (March 24, 2021). "Rob Bonta, an Asian-American Progressive, Is Named Attorney General in California". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  3. ^ "Attorney General Rob Bonta". State of California - Department of Justice - Office of the Attorney General. December 21, 2010. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  4. ^ a b California Constitution, Article V, Section 13 Archived January 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ California Government Code §15000
  6. ^ California Code of Civil Procedure §401
  7. ^ "History of Initiative and Referendum in California". Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  8. ^ "Proposition 4 (1934)".
  9. ^ Thurber, Jon; Dolan, Maura (June 20, 2001). "Stanley Mosk, State's Senior Justice, Dies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  10. ^ Dick, Jason (August 12, 2020). "'It's just history': Kamala Harris as the VP nominee". CQ Roll Call. FiscalNote. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  11. ^ "Attorney General Xavier Becerra". Office of the Attorney General. State of California Department of Justice. Archived from the original on March 23, 2019. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  12. ^ "Governor Newsom Swears in Rob Bonta as Attorney General of California". Office of Governor Gavin Newsom. April 23, 2021. Retrieved July 14, 2021.

External links[edit]