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Friday, July 29, 2005

Attorney general Carter appoints state's first solicitor general

According to this story today by Kevin Rader on the WTHR 13 website, Attorney General Steve Carter has created a new office of solicitor general and named attorney Thomas Fisher as the first to fill that position. A quote:

Indianapolis, July 28 - Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter made an announcement Thursday. "Today we come here to recognize that official, Thomas Fisher, as the state's first solicitor general."

As such Fisher will handle constitutional challenges as well as other cases of vital interest to state government.

I was unable to find information about this appointment on the AG's somewhat limited website, but did find the press release quoted in full here at the Inside Indiana Business site. Some quotes:
Indianapolis - Attorney General Steve Carter has named Special Counsel Thomas M. Fisher to the new position of Solicitor General. The solicitor general will be assigned specific cases of constitutional challenges as well as other cases with issues of vital interest to state government. The solicitor general will also review and make recommendations to the Attorney General on the state's participation in filing or signing amicus curiae, or "friend of the court," briefs.

"Tom has a thoughtful, thorough approach to litigation that has served our state well over the past several years as special counsel," Attorney General Carter said. "The complex nature of constitutional challenges and other cases against the state require a dedicated individual with in-depth knowledge and experience with such challenges. That person is Tom. His excellent record before the Indiana and United States Supreme Courts is invaluable as we continue to seek methods and processes to enhance the state's legal arguments and decision making."

The solicitor general will be responsible for handling cases before the Supreme Court of the United States and will consult with the appellate division of the Attorney General's Office concerning civil appellate case strategy. It is anticipated that this new focus and organizational structure will provide the attorney general with a more comprehensive and coordinated legal policy review. It is also the first of several restructuring initiatives Carter has planned for the office during his second term. * * * Indiana joins 30 other states that have the position of solicitor general.

Here is an August 16, 2003 ILB entry (interestingly titled "A Solicitor General for Indiana?") on the "increasingly popular concept of the state solicitor general." It includes quotes from a still available 2003 Tony Mauro article headlined: "Stating Their Case: Lawyers with hopes of on appellate career are increasingly taking jobs as state solicitors." A few quotes from the article:
"Nationally, the position of SG has expanded dramatically. It's a great attraction for young lawyers who want to get out there and actually argue cases." Cruz will be handling as many as three Supreme Court cases in the upcoming term, and arguing one or more.

While notable in itself, the law clerk trend is a telling sign of another important development in the appellate landscape: the increasing number, allure and prestige of state solicitor generalships. Private law firms and the U.S. solicitor general's office are no longer viewed as the only springboards to top-notch appellate experiences. And the states, with increasing clout and legal savvy, are taking advantage of the new talent knocking on their doors.

Fully 29 states now have their own SGs, up from eight only 15 years ago. California recently joined the list with its first SG, Manuel Medeiros.

"Every year we add a few, it seems," says Missouri's SG, James Layton, author of a recent law review article on the rise of state SGs.

States have long had appellate section chiefs who specialized in state and federal appeals, he notes. But by moving to the solicitor general title and model, states are trying to increase the professionalism and quality of the work. "It gives the attorney general a sort of a legal scholar on staff, typically someone who did not work in his or her campaign, someone who might think differently from the other lawyers," Layton says.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 29, 2005 09:56 AM
Posted to Indiana Government | Indiana Law