§26-7  Department of the attorney general.  The department of the attorney general shall be headed by a single executive to be known as the attorney general.

     The department shall administer and render state legal services, including furnishing of written legal opinions to the governor, legislature, and such state departments and officers as the governor may direct; represent the State in all civil actions in which the State is a party; approve as to legality and form all documents relating to the acquisition of any land or interest in lands by the State; and, unless otherwise provided by law, prosecute cases involving violations of state laws and cases involving agreements, uniform laws, or other matters which are enforceable in the courts of the State.  The attorney general shall be charged with such other duties and have such authority as heretofore provided by common law or statute.

     There shall be within the department of the attorney general a commission to be known as the commission to promote uniform legislation which shall sit in an advisory capacity to the attorney general and to the legislature on matters relating to the promotion of uniform legislation.  The composition of the commission shall be as heretofore provided for the commission to promote uniform legislation existing immediately prior to November 25, 1959.  The members of the commission shall be nominated, and by and with the advice and consent of the senate, appointed by the governor for terms of four years each, provided that each member shall hold office until the member's successor is appointed and qualified; and provided also that the provisions of section 26-34, limiting the appointment of members of boards and commissions to two terms and the duration of membership to not more than eight consecutive years shall not be applicable.

     The functions and authority heretofore exercised by the attorney general, high sheriff, and the commission to promote uniform legislation as heretofore constituted are transferred to the department of the attorney general established by this chapter. [L Sp 1959 2d, c 1, §13; am L 1965, c 127, §1; Supp, §14A-12; HRS §26-7; am L 1969, c 123, §1 and c 175, §12; am L 1975, c 20, §1; gen ch 1985; am L 1989, c 211, §10; am L 1990, c 281, §11]


Attorney General Opinions


  This statute is constitutional, with regard to the use of the phrase "appointed and qualified" [pertaining to the commission to promote uniform legislation] to describe when a successor's appointment terminates a holdover member's position.  Att. Gen. Op. 16-3.

  The State already holds an inchoate right to land that may pass to it by erosion or sea level rise.  Ripening of that inchoate right is not "acquiring" or "acquisition" of real property under this section, §107-10, or §171-30.  Accordingly, the attorney general does not have to review the ownership change and does not have to review or approve "documents relating to" the ownership.  Att. Gen. Op. 17-1.


Case Notes


  Compromise agreement resolving legal claim against board of land and natural resources was not binding on State without attorney general's approval.  57 H. 259, 554 P.2d 761.

  Attorney general may represent a state employee in a civil action while prosecuting the same employee in a criminal matter.  71 H. 598, 801 P.2d 548.

  Without express authorization of employees' retirement system board, attorney general lacked power to file appeal on board's behalf from circuit court's final order; where attorney general perceived conflict of interest with board, attorney general was ethically obligated to recommend retention of other counsel to represent board and take other appropriate action.  87 H. 152, 952 P.2d 1215.

  Hawaii county ordinance that established cannabis offenses as the lowest law enforcement priority in the county conflicted with, and was therefore preempted by, this section and other state laws requiring the state attorney general and county prosecuting attorney to investigate and prosecute violations of the statewide Penal Code.  135 H. 411, 353 P.3d 953 (2015).