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Official Opinions

What are the Official Opinions of the Attorney General

The Official Opinions of the Attorney General are memorandums of legal advice that are not confidential or otherwise privileged and are considered to have a statewide impact or other significance. These opinions express a considered and reasoned legal opinion that may or may not be agreed with by a court or other body faced with the same issue at a later date. The Attorney General may re-evaluate and revoke or modify prior opinions as necessary. It should be noted that not all obsolete opinions may be noted in a later opinion. If you have questsions about the continuing validity of an opinion please contact the Attorney General's Office.

Offical Opinions of the Attorney General will be issued consistent with SDCL 1-11-1(6) to the Governor, Legislature, Auditor, and Treasurer. In addition, the Attorney General may issue opinions to state departments, divisions, boards, bureaus or commissions, state's attorneys, other public officials, and counsel for public bodies.

The Official Opinions of the Attorney General will only be issued on questions of law relating to the official duties of the requesting officer. Opinions will be confined to actual questions, and not theoretical or hypothetical questions. Opinions will not be issued on any matter pending before any court, state administrative agency, or local government agency or body. Opinions will also not be issued on the constitutionality of statutes. The Attorney General reserves the right to deny any opinion request.

Availability of Official Opinions

This website contains the Official Opinions of the Attorney General issued since [1968?]. Earlier opinions are available in the state law libraries in book format or by contacting the Attorney General's Office. Official Opinions of the Attorney General continue to be published in book format, but they are first published on this website shortly after issuance.

How to Request an Official Opinion

Requests for Official Opinions must be submitted in writing to the Attorney General's Office by the requesting officer. The request should include:

  • a description of the general subject matter to be addressed;
  • a description of the specific factual situation involved;
  • a clear and concise listing of all questions the Attorney General is being asked to address;
  • a statement of any applicable state statute, administrative law, or known court decision; and
  • a description of the contentions of or positions taken by any interested party.

Cabinet level departments must obtain the approval of the Governor to seek an opinion and include a copy of that approval in writing with their request.