The state attorney general is the principal law enforcement officer in a state. The office brings actions in the name of the state when appropriate, serves as legal counsel to the legislative and executive branches, and issues opinions clarifying or interpreting statutes. The attorney general may also intervene in suits where it is felt the state’s interest should be represented. The office, however, is much weaker than that of the U.S. Attorney General.

The chief local law enforcement officer may be called the prosecuting attorney state attorney, or district attorney.

The office of the public defender is now active in many states. Public defenders provide legal counsel for people of limited means in both trial and appellate courts.

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