Attorney General Opinions: how strong are they?

There is some interesting commentary about the status of AG Opinions in the case I told you about on Monday. That’s the one involving a breach of contract claim against ESC Region 2. The court dismissed the case due to the sovereign immunity the Service Centers have. For more on that, go back to Monday’s entry!

The opinion also has some things to say about AG Opinions. The key issue in the case was about the legal status of our twenty ESCs. Are they arms of the state? Or are they more like local school districts? The plaintiff in the case dusted off an AG Opinion from 2014 authored by our current governor. The court noted that the AG’s office has been inconsistent about the status of ESCs:

As the Perez Court noted, Attorney General opinions have historically been inconsistent in their characterization of ESCs, referring to an ESC as a “state agency” in one opinion, but then stating in another opinion that ESC employees are “hired by and accountable to the local board of directors” instead of the state board.

The court tossed in the observation that “Of course, as the Supreme Court of Texas recently reiterated, Attorney General opinions are merely advisory.”

For lawyers it’s pretty simple. Did the AG issue an opinion that supports your client’s position? Then that opinion “represents the official, well-reasoned and well supported opinion of the legal representative of the sovereign State of Texas.” Does the opinion go against your client’s position? Then it is “merely advisory.”


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