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Texas Politics - The Justice System
Interns discuss working in the Attorney General's office. Interns discuss working in the Attorney General's office.
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The Office of the Attorney General has extensive responsibilities -- including enforcing court ordered child support payments and protecting consumers against scams. For more information about the Attorney General, see Executive Branch chapter.

1.1    Overview of the Justice System in Texas

The Tulia case demonstrates just how sprawling and multilayered the justice system is. It is responsible for both criminal and civil justice, with core components that include law enforcement (local sheriff and police departments, districts attorneys, and the state Department of Public Safety), law adjudication (the court system), and criminal corrections (local and state jails, prisons, halfway houses, treatment centers, and pardons and paroles). This last component is used exclusively in the criminal justice realm.

An additional key component to the justice system in Texas is the constitutionally specified Office of the Attorney General, the state's top lawyer and law enforcement official, who also is elected directly by statewide popular vote. The Attorney General is charged by the Texas Constitution to:

  • defend the laws and the Constitution of the state of Texas
  • represent the state in litigation
  • approve public bond issues

The current Attorney General, Greg Abbott, was elected in 2002 and reelected in 2006 and 2010.

To fulfill these responsibilities the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) serves as legal counsel to all boards and agencies of state government, and issues legal opinions when requested by the Governor, heads of state agencies and other state officials and agencies. It also defends against challenges to state laws and suits against both state agencies and individual employees of the state. The OAG's responsibilities have grown over the decades along with the development of the state. The Antitrust and Civil Medicaid Fraud Division investigates and even prosecutes violations of both state and federal antitrust statutes. The Consumer Protection Division investigates consumer fraud and files civil lawsuits under consumer protection laws. For more information on the broad range of its activities and responsibilities, visit the OAG's website.

Texas Politics:
© 2009, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
3rd Edition - Revision 115
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