The attorney general is the chief legal officer of a number of nations or states and is often a delegate for the government in its legal actions.
The "Attorney General" typically refers to the top attorney who runs the Department of Justice in the United States, who is nominated by the president and then must be approved by the Senate. When approved he/she becomes a member of the Cabinet. It is the American Attorney General’s duty to manage and direct the Department of Justice and to represent the government in legal matters. Other responsibilities include enforcing federal laws, especially criminal cases.
Each U.S. state government also appoints an attorney general. This is an elective position in 43 states, with other methods used in the remaining 7.
Other countries that have attorney generals include Canada, Australia, England and Wales. In Canada, the minister of justice may also be called the attorney general. A member of the majority party in parliament is chosen for this post by the prime minister and appointed by the governor general. In England and Wales, the attorney general is a member of the House of Commons and of the government. They are politically responsible for the Crown Prosecution Service, and head of the English Bar. It is their duty to represent the public with an unbiased view. In Australia, the attorney general is the chief law officer of the Crown and a member of the Federal Cabinet.
- Berman, David R. (1988) U.S.A. The World Book Encyclopedia p. 81. Illinois: World Book, Inc.