By Jean A. Flanagan
Moorefield Examiner –
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey traveled to Moorefield on Saturday to explain the role of the Attorney General’s office and to hear concerns from the citizens of Hardy County.
“We’re traveling across the state, to every county,” Morrisey told a group of nearly 40 at the Hardy County Public Library. “For many years residents of the eastern panhandle felt disconnected from Charleston. It is important that every county in the state is represented.”
Morrisey outlined the duties of the Attorney General’s office and then fielded questions from the audience.
The Attorney General’s main function is that of chief legal officer for the state. The AG’s office employs nearly 200 people who represent 60 state agencies and boards. In that capacity, the office represents the state in matters brought before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
The Attorney General’s office also has a Consumer Protection Division which responds to citizens’ complaints about products and services. Under the Consumer Protection Division, Morrisey has established a Substance Abuse Task Force. The task force works with law enforcement and prosecutors to share data and resources as well as coordinate with neighboring states.
The AG’s office writes opinions to clarify the law. “While our office cannot represent individual citizens, any citizen can ask, through their local prosecutor, or any other state agency, for clarification of the law,” Morrisey said.
The AG’s office reviews federal laws to make sure West Virginia’s interests are protected. The office has filed four briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court, in coalition with other states. One involved the perceived overreach of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One involved the Second Amendment issue of gun sales between law-abiding citizens. One concerned drug companies’ payment for not selling generic drugs. One involved credit card fees.
Ovid Need asked Morrisey how the average person can report an elected official who is breaking the law.
Morrisey said the person could first go to law enforcement and report the crime. The next step would be the county’s prosecuting attorney.
“You could also contact the state Ethics Commission or the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Morrisey said. “The Attorney General’s office has limited jurisdiction.”