Tennessee District Attorney General – Description of Duties

The citizens of Tennessee often become upset at their District Attorney General for either prosecuting a case they don’t believe should be prosecuted or for not prosecuting a case they believe should be prosecuted.  With that in mind, here is a quote from an opinion rendered by the Tennessee Supreme Court describing the duties of the District Attorney General (then called the Solicitor-General).  I hope this enlightens the readers of this blog.

The District Attorney General

… “He is to judge between the people and the government; he is to be the safeguard of the one and the advocate for the rights of the other; he ought not to suffer the innocent to be oppressed or vexatiously harassed; any more than those who deserve prosecution to escape; he is to pursue guilt; he is to protect innocence; he is to judge the circumstances, and, according to their true complexion, to combine the public welfare and the safety of the citizens, preserving both, and not impairing either; he is to decline the use of both individual passions and individual malevolence, when he can not use them for the advantage of the public; he is to lay hold of them where public justice, in sound discretions, requires it.” …

Catherine Fout v. State of Tennessee, 4 Tenn. 98 (1816)

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