The Law Library has recently acquired access to the State Attorney General Reports & Opinions database on HeinOnline. This database has the AG reports and opinions for all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands back to the early 1980s and Hein is working on digitizing all available state AG reports and opinions. Documents will be added as they are available. This database can be searched by opinion number as well as by keyword. Opinions can also be browsed by state. In addition, this database contains the Official Opinions of the Attorneys General of the United States from 1791-1982 and the Opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel of the United States Department of Justice from 1977-2000.
In understanding the need for researching AG opinions, a well-respected Legal Research text, Fundamentals of Legal Research, is instructive. “As legal advisors to the executive branch of government, attorneys general give legal advice on requested topics. Usually this advice is written as an official opinion. These formal opinions have the characteristics of both primary and secondary authority. They are primary authority in the sense that they are official statements of an executive officer, issued pursuant to his or her authority. These opinions, on the other hand, are merely advisory and not mandatory orders. The recommendations and conclusions set forth in such opinions are persuasive and are often followed by executive officers; they are not, however, binding. These opinions may also influence court deliberations.” Roy M. Mersky & Donald J. Dunn, Fundamentals of Legal Research 428-29 (8th ed. 2002).