The Office of the Solicitor General represents the Commonwealth in all civil and criminal appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals, the Kentucky Supreme Court, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals. The Office also coordinates the defense of the Commonwealth's laws against constitutional challenges and actively participates in the development of legal strategies to ensure that issues are appropriately framed in appellate courts and that the Commonwealth takes consistent legal positions in all appeals. In addition to overseeing appeals in which the state is a party, the Solicitor General also supervises the Commonwealth's submission of amicus curiae briefs in cases in which Kentucky is not a party.
In 2019, Attorney General Daniel Cameron created the Office of the Solicitor General. During the 2020 legislative session, he worked with the General Assembly to codify the Office of Solicitor General into statute, making him the first Kentucky Attorney General to establish an Office of the Solicitor General. The creation of this office means that going forward, Kentuckians' voices will be heard in our state's and nation's highest courts.
The Civil Appeals Unit represents the Commonwealth in all civil appeals, including those that raise constitutional issues and issues of statutory construction. The Unit also handles appeals related to, among other things, consumer protection, government benefits, civil rights, and employment. In addition, Kentucky law gives the attorney general the power to represent the Commonwealth's interests in any civil appeal. To this end, the Unit is charged with defending Kentucky's laws against constitutional challenges in state and federal courts. The Unit also files all amicus briefs for the Commonwealth in civil appeals.
The Criminal Appeals Unit represents the Commonwealth in appeals of criminal convictions and in post-conviction matters like habeas corpus proceedings. While local prosecutors handle criminal trials, Kentucky law gives the Criminal Appeals Unit jurisdiction over those cases once they go on appeal. In this capacity, the Criminal Appeals Unit works with local prosecutors to administer justice and to ensure that lawfully imposed sentences are carried out.
AMICUS CURIAE BRIEFS
The Solicitor General regularly files amicus briefs expressing the views of the Commonwealth in state and federal courts across the nation, including the United States Supreme Court. When the Commonwealth is not a party to a case but nevertheless has an interest in it, the Solicitor General often files an amicus brief as a "friend of the court" to present the Commonwealth's position about how the matter should be resolved. The Solicitor General often works with other states' solicitors general to prepare amicus briefs on behalf of a coalition of states. Since General Cameron took office, the Solicitor General has filed five amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of different coalitions of states. As evidence of the importance of amicus briefs, the United States Supreme Court frequently cites them in its decisions.