I swear, every other word that comes out of John Brownlee’s mouth is about how he used to be a prosecutor, as if that has any bearing on the Attorney General’s Office.
Maybe he should check out the Attorney General’s Office’s website. As one page notes, “[t]he Office of the Attorney General is the Commonwealth’s law firm. Its clients are the Virginia state government and the state agencies, boards and commissions that compose that government.”
On the list of “duties and powers” for the office (Id.), the only reference to prosecuting cases appears in the eight bullet stating, “[c]onduct or assist criminal investigations and prosecutions in certain limited cases” [emphasis mine].
Remember, also, that current Republican candidate for Governor and former Attorney General, Bob McDonnell, was responsible for the information on that website until a couple weeks ago.
Is Brownlee not familiar with Virginia law or something? After all, the guy has been doing federal, not state, cases for the past decade or more. Maybe he should consult Va. Code § 2.2-511 [emphasis mine throughout]:
A. Unless specifically requested by the Governor to do so, the Attorney General shall have no authority to institute or conduct criminal prosecutions in the circuit courts of the Commonwealth except in cases involving (i) violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (§ 4.1-100 et seq.), (ii) violation of laws relating to elections and the electoral process as provided in § 24.2-104, (iii) violation of laws relating to motor vehicles and their operation, (iv) the handling of funds by a state bureau, institution, commission or department, (v) the theft of state property, (vi) violation of the criminal laws involving child pornography and sexually explicit visual material involving children, (vii) the practice of law without being duly authorized or licensed or the illegal practice of law, (viii) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth [the locale’s elected Commonwealth’s Attorney], violations of the Virginia Computer Crimes Act (§ 18.2-152.1 et seq.), (ix) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, violations of the Air Pollution Control Law (§ 10.1-1300 et seq.), the Virginia Waste Management Act (§ 10.1-1400 et seq.), and the State Water Control Law (§ 62.1-44.2 et seq.), (x) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, violations of Chapters 2 (§ 18.2-18 et seq.), 3 (§ 18.2-22 et seq.), and 10 (§ 18.2-434 et seq.) of Title 18.2, if such crimes relate to violations of law listed in clause (ix) of this subsection, (xi) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, criminal violations by Medicaid providers or their employees in the course of doing business, or violations of Chapter 13 (§ 18.2-512 et seq.) of Title 18.2, in which cases the Attorney General may leave the prosecution to the local attorney for the Commonwealth, or he may institute proceedings by information, presentment or indictment, as appropriate, and conduct the same, (xii) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, violations of Article 9 (§ 18.2-246.1 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of Title 18.2, (xiii) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, assisting in the prosecution of violations of §§ 18.2-186.3 and 18.2-186.4, and (xiv) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, assisting in the prosecution of violations of § 18.2-46.2, 18.2-46.3, or 18.2-46.5 when such violations are committed on the grounds of a state correctional facility.
In all other criminal cases in the circuit courts, except where the law provides otherwise, the authority of the Attorney General to appear or participate in the proceedings shall not attach unless and until a petition for appeal has been granted by the Court of Appeals or a writ of error has been granted by the Supreme Court. In all criminal cases before the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court in which the Commonwealth is a party or is directly interested, the Attorney General shall appear and represent the Commonwealth. In any criminal case in which a petition for appeal has been granted by the Court of Appeals, the Attorney General shall continue to represent the Commonwealth in any further appeal of a case from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court.
I’m sure there’s a locale somewhere looking for a qualified Commonwealth’s Attorney, if John Brownlee wants to prosecute criminal cases, maybe he should go there.