The Civil Law Division handles defense litigation for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and much, much more. It defends the constitutionality of Pennsylvania law; represents Commonwealth agencies and their employees in the course of their job duties; collects taxes and other debts owed to the Commonwealth including through litigation of tax appeals to the Commonwealth Court; reviews Commonwealth contracts, regulations and bond issues for form and legality; acts as a plaintiff in legal matters involving issues of significant state and national importance including litigation on policies and actions of the federal government; and handles all manner of civil appellate litigation for the Commonwealth. The Civil Law Division is headed by an Executive Deputy Attorney General who reports to the First Deputy Attorney General and, through the First Deputy, to the Attorney General.
Civil Law Division attorneys appear before federal District and Bankruptcy Courts, United States Courts of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as the Courts of Common Pleas in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court. They work out of the Office of Attorney General’s main offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, as well as Erie, Norristown and Scranton. Each office has an Attorney-in-Charge who reports to the Section Chief with respect to legal matters. In addition, the Eastern and Western Regional Offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh each have a Regional Chief who reports to the Executive Deputy Attorney General of the Civil Law Division with respect to administrative matters.
The sections in the Civil Law Division are:
- Appellate Litigation
- Civil Litigation
- Legal Review
- Tax Litigation
- Financial Enforcement
- Torts Litigation
Each is headed by a Chief Deputy Attorney General who reports to the Executive Deputy Attorney General. While each of these six sections has its own area of expertise, where appropriate, the sections work collaboratively, to get the best result for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The Appellate Litigation Section handles all civil litigation appeals in state and federal courts. These appeals arise from both the Civil Law and Public Protection Divisions of the Office of Attorney General and include constitutional challenges to state laws, policies and actions; employment, tax appeal and personal injury matters; oversight of charitable organizations; and consumer protection cases. The Appellate Litigation Section also analyzes and advises on requests that the Commonwealth join friend-of-the-court “amicus” briefs in the Supreme Court of the United States and elsewhere around the Country.
The Civil Litigation Section represents the Commonwealth, the Office of Attorney General, the Governor, and other Commonwealth agencies, officials, and employees in various types of civil litigation. The claims often involve civil rights, constitutional law, and employment law. In the overwhelming majority of its cases, the Civil Litigation Section is defending the interests of the Commonwealth when it is sued by others; however, Civil Litigation Section attorneys also initiate actions on behalf of the Commonwealth when necessary to enforce the law.
The Impact Section is responsible for evaluating and advising on requests that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania lead and/or join multi-state efforts involving issues of significant state and national importance that impact Pennsylvanians, including matters regarding policies and actions of the federal government. These multi-state efforts include comments to federal agencies on proposed regulations, friend-of-the-court “amicus” briefs in the Supreme Court of the United States and elsewhere, and legal actions filed in various courts across the country that are necessary or desirable to protect the legal rights of Pennsylvanians.
The Legal Review Section reviews and approves for form and legality all state agency contracts and regulations, as well as state bond issues. It also drafts and approves plain language statements for ballot questions, protects agricultural operations from unauthorized local regulation that is prohibited or preempted by state law under the Agricultural Communities and Rural Environment Act, 3 Pa. C.S. §§ 311-318, or “ACRE,” and responds to all Right-to-Know Law requests submitted to the Office of Attorney General. In addition, when requested to do so by the Governor or the head of any Commonwealth agency, the Legal Review Section provides them with legal advice on matters arising in connection with their official duties. 71 P.S. § 732-204.
The Tax Litigation Section represents the Commonwealth litigation of state tax appeals before the Board of Finance and Revenue to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania and beyond. It handles an active caseload of over 3,000 cases, mostly involving sales and use tax, corporate taxes, and personal income taxes.
The Financial Enforcement Section collects delinquent debts and other obligations owed to the Commonwealth and its agencies in state courts and federal bankruptcy courts throughout the United States.
The Torts Litigation Section defends the Commonwealth and its agencies, officials, and employees in personal injury and property damage actions in state courts around the Commonwealth, including claims against PennDOT for death or serious bodily injury resulting from the allegedly defective design, construction, or maintenance of state highways.