Attorney General Opinions
Many people who contact the Minnesota Office of the Attorney General are seeking some type of legal opinion. However, the Attorney General is authorized by statute to issue written legal opinions only to constitutional executive officers, state agencies, bodies of the state legislature, and attorneys for local governments or pension funds. The Attorney General can’t give legal advice to private parties. Each year the Attorney General receives numerous written opinion requests from these sources. Some of these subsequently are dropped for lack of jurisdiction, or are responded to informally because the issue could be resolved without a formal opinion. However, if the matter meets the criteria of general applicability and/or interest, the Attorney General issues a formal opinion. While these opinions do not generally have legally binding effect as would a court decision, they are helpful in guiding the actions of public officials and are often accorded substantial deference by the courts.
On-line access to A.G. Opinions
Other tools for finding A.G. Opinions
Minnesota Statutes Annotated contains digests of opinions for those statutes that have been interpreted or discussed by an opinion. If the topics you are researching involves a Minnesota statute, MSA should be your starting point. MSA will cite to the opinions in two ways: first, by classification number plus the date it was issued (e.g. Op. Atty. Gen., 629-a, May 9, 1975; Op. Atty. Gen., 639K, 28C7, May 5, 1955); second, by the number and page cite as published in the biennial report of the attorney general (e.g. Op. Atty. Gen. 1926, No. 63, p. 73).
If the opinion you are seeking has the number and page cite, you will most easily find that opinion by going to the hard bound volumes of the Biennial Report of the Attorney General to the Governor of the State of Minnesota, bearing a spine title of: Report of the Attorney General, Minnesota.
The Biennial Report contains only selected opinions. However, if you have a classification number and date cite, there is a possibility that the opinion was published in the Biennial Report. You may consult the "Numerical Index to the Selected Opinions of the Minnesota Attorney General, 1933-1968" in Minnesota Legal Research Guide by Arlett M. Soderberg and Barbara L. Golden to see if it was published.
After 1970, all A.G. opinions have been published in Minnesota Legal Register in 3-ring binders with the spine title: "State of Minnesota, Opinions of the Attorney General." If your opinion is dated after 1970, you may go directly to the 3-ring binders to find it.
Subject indexes are available in each volume of the Biennial Report and yearly in the Minnesota Legal Register.
Most of the print materials referred to above are available at law school and large county law libraries in Minnesota.
There may be hundreds of opinions under a single classification number. If you are looking for a specific opinion it is important to have the date along with the number.
More than one opinion may have been issued on a specific date, so you may have to browse through several opinions until you find the one with your number or dealing with your topic.
The Library of the Office of the Attorney General has the complete set of opinions on microfiche. Please provide the opinion number, date and topic when requesting opinion copies, to ensure that the correct opinion is supplied.
How to obtain copies of A.G. Opinions:
445 Minnesota St., Suite 1050
St. Paul, MN 55101-2109
Call: (651) 757-1055
The Attorney General is authorized by statute to issue written legal opinions only to constitutional executive officers, state agencies, bodies of the state legislature, and attorneys for local governments or pension funds.
Please direct consumer questions to:
Minnesota Attorney General's Office
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400
St. Paul, MN 55101
Helpline: (651) 296-3353
TTY: (651) 297-7206