North Carolina State Government

Attorney General

 Department Website:
www.ncdoj.gov


Joshua Stein

Since the beginnings of the colony in 1664, the Lords Proprietors deemed it neccesary to appoint an Attorney General to support their appointed governors. The first documented Attorney General for North Carolina was George Durant, who was appointed by Acting Governor John Jenkins in 1676. There were probably others.

Per the 1776 State Constitution, the Attorney General was elected by the General Assembly. Since the 1868 State Constitution, the Attorney General is elected by the people of North Carolina every four years as the state’s top law enforcement officer and top lawyer. The Attorney General is also on the Council of State. Powers and duties of the Attorney General are set forth in the Constitution and General Statutes of North Carolina.

In the early 1800s, the General Assembly created the Department of Justice as part of a government-wide reorganization, with the Attorney General as its leader. Under the current State Constitution, Article III, Section 7 requires that the Attorney General must be authorized to practice law in the courts of this State.

As head of the North Carolina Department of Justice, the Attorney General provides legal representation and advice to all state government departments, agencies and commissions. The Attorney General also provides legal opinions at the request of other public officials and handles all criminal appeals from state trial courts.

When the state's public interests are at stake, the Attorney General can take legal action on behalf of North Carolina's citizens.

The North Carolina Justice Academy, also a part of the DOJ, provides training and technical assistance for law enforcement agencies. Commissions staffed by DOJ employees oversee law enforcement training and standards.

Past Attorneys General

Name

Year(s)

Notes/Comments

Joshua Stein

2017 - ?
Elected on November 8, 2016.

Roy Asberry Cooper, III

2001 - 2017
Later Governor of North Carolina.

Michael Francis Easley

1993 - 2001
Later Governor of North Carolina

Lacy H. Thornburg

1985 - 1993
-

Rufus L. Edmisten

1975 - 1985
Elected in general election to fill Morgan's term, defeating James H. Carson, Jr.

James H. Carson, Jr.

1974 - 1975
Appointed by Governor James E. Holhouser, Jr.

Robert B. Morgan

1969 - 1974
Resigned on August 26, 1974.

T. Wade Bruton

1960 - 1969
Appointed by Governor Luther H. Hodges.

Malcolm B. Seawell

1958 - 1960
Appointed by Governor Luther H. Hodges. Resigned effective February 29, 1960.

George B. Patton

1956 - 1958
Appointed by Governor Luther H. Hodges. Resigned effective April 15, 1958.

William Blount Rodman, Jr.

1955 - 1956
Appointed by Governor Luther H. Hodges. Resigned in August of 1956 after being appointed to the NC Supreme Court.

Harry McMullan

1938 - 1955
Appointed by Governor Clyde R. Hoey. Died on June 24, 1955.

Aaron Ashley Flowers Seawell, Jr.

1935 - 1938
Appointed by Governor John C.B. Ehringhaus. Served until he was appointed to the NC Supreme Court on April 30, 1938.

Dennis G. Brummitt

1925 - 1935
Died on February 5, 1935.

James S. Manning

1917 - 1925
-

Thomas W. Bickett

1909 - 1917
Elected in general elections. In 1916, he was elected as the next governor.

Robert D. Gilmer

1901 - 1909
-

Robert D. Douglas

1900 - 1901
Appointed by Governor Daniel L. Russell on November 24, 1900.

Zebulon Vance Walser

1897 - 1900
Elected in general elections. Resigned on November 24, 1900 after being defeated for re-election.

Frank I. Osborne

1893 - 1897
-

Theodore F. Davidson

1885 - 1893
-

Thomas S. Kenan

1877 - 1885
-

Tazewell L. Hargrove

1873 - 1877
-

William M. Shipp

1870 - 1873
Elected in general elections. Defeated in next election.

Lewis P. Olds

1869 - 1870
Appointed by Governor William W. Holden on June 1, 1869. Defeated in Primary.

William M. Coleman

1868 - 1869
Elected in general elections. Resigned on May 29, 1869.

Sion Hart Rogers

1863 - 1868
Served until the new 1868 State Constitution went into effect.

William A. Jenkins

1857 - 1862
Office declared vacant on December 8, 1862 because Jenkins accepted a commission in the Confederate Army.

William H. Bailey

1857
Elected by the General Assembly.

Joseph B. Batchelor

1855 - 1856
Appointed by Governor Thomas Bragg, Jr. He resigned on November 26, 1856.

Matthew W. Ransom

1853 - 1855
Elected by the General Assembly. Resigned on May 2, 1855.

William Eaton, Jr.

1851 - 1852
Appointed by Governor David S. Reid.

Bartholomew F. Moore

1848 - 1851
Appointed by Governor William A. Graham. Resigned in May or June of 1851.

Edward Stanley

1846 - 1848
Resigned on May 8, 1848.

Spier Whitaker

1842 - 1846
-

Hugh McQueen

1841 - 1842
Resignation received on November 25, 1842.

John Reeves Jones Daniel

1835 - 1841
-

Romulus Mitchell Saunders

1828 - 1834
Resigned on December 31, 1834.

Robert H. Jones

1828
Appointed by Governor James Iredell, Jr.

James F. Taylor

1825 - 1828
Died in either late June or early July of 1828.

William P. Drew

1816 - 1824
Resigned in November of 1824.

Hutchins Gordon Burton

1810 - 1816
Resigned on November 21, 1816.

William Miller

1810
Appointed by Governor David Stone.

Oliver Fitts

1808 - 1810
Resigned on July 6, 1810.

Henry Seawell

1803 - 1808
Resigned on November 30, 1808.

Blake Baker

1795 - 1803
Resigned on November 25, 1803.

John Haywood, Jr.

1792 - 1795
Resigned after being elected to the Superior Court on January 28, 1795.

Alfred Moore

1782 - 1791
Resigned, but no one appointed to immediately replace him.

James Iredell

1779 - 1782
Appointed by Governor Richard Caswell to replace Thomas McQuire who declined to serve. Then elected by the General Assembly.

Waightstill Avery

1777 - 1779
Resigned on May 8, 1779.

Attorneys General for the Province/Colony of North Carolina

Name

Year(s)

Notes/Comments

Thomas McGuire

1767 - 1775
Commissioned by the Crown.

Marmaduke Jones

1766 - 1767
Appointed by Governor William Tryon.

Robert Jones, Jr.

1761 - 1766
Commissioned by the Crown. Died on October 2, 1766.

Thomas Child

1759 - 1761
Commissioned by the Crown. Resigned.

Robert Jones, Jr.

1756 - 1759
Appointed by Governor Arthur Dobbs.

Charles Elliot

1756
Appointed by Governor Arthur Dobbs. Served only a few months then died.

George Nicholas

1752 - 1756
Appointed by Governor Arthur Dobbs.

Thomas Child

1747 - 1752
Commissioned by the Crown. Returned to England in 1752.

Joseph Anderson

1743 - 1747
Appointed by Governor Gabriel Johnston.

John Montgomery

1742 - 1743
Resigned to become Chief Justice.

Joseph Anderson

1741 - 1742
Appointed Acting Attorney General by Governor Gabriel Johnston when John Montgomery made temporary Chief Justice. Montgomery retook the office until he was made permanent Chief Justice.

John Hodgson

1734
Appointed by Governor George Burrington when Montgomery was suspended. Montgomery retook the office when Governor Gabriel Johnston arrived.

John Montgomery

1731 - 1734
1734 - 1741
Commissioned by the Crown. Suspended by Governor George Burrington, retook office when Governor Gabriel Johnston arrived.

John Connor

1731
Appointed by Governor George Burrington.

William Little

1725 - 1731
-

Thomas Boyd

1724 - 1725
Appointed by Governor George Burrington.

William Little

1724
Appointed by Governor George Burrington. Resigned soon thereafter. Reappointed in 1725.

John Montgomery

-
Some sources say he was appointed in 1723, but no evidence that he served.

James Stanaway

-
Instructions from Lords Proprietors to Governor George Burrington that they appointed Stanaway, but no evidence that he served.

John Worley

-
One source says he was appointed in 1716, but no evidence that he served.

Daniel Richardson

1714 - 1724
Appointed by Governor Charles Eden.

Edward Bonwicke

1711 - 1714
Records show he served from at least March of 1711 to at least June of 1714. No longer in office in October of 1714

Christopher Gale

1708 - 1710
Second term. Records spotty.

Thomas Snoden

1705 - 1708
Began in the Fall of 1705.

Christopher Gale

1704 - 1705
Available records show he served at least from July of 1704 until October of 1705.

Richard Plater

1696 - 1703
Appointed by Deputy Governor Thomas Harvey. Available records show he served at least until October of 1703.

Thomas Abington

1696
Available records show he served for at least two indictments in February of 1696.

Henderson Walker

1695
-

John Porter Jr.

1694 -1695
Appointed by Deputy Governor Thomas Harvey.

William Wilkinson

1694
Known to have been suspended by Deputy Governor Thomas Harvey for "Misdemeanors" in 1694.

1681 - 1694
Records unavailable, no names known.

George Durant

1677 - 1681
Possibly appointed even earlier (1673/74) by Acting Governor John Jenkins.


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