The Attorney General is authorized by Mass. General Laws (M.G.L.) Chapter 12, Sections 3, 6 and 9, to render formal opinions and legal advice to constitutional officers, agencies and departments, district attorneys, and branches and committees of the Legislature.

Formal, published opinions are given primarily to the heads of state agencies and departments.

In limited circumstances, less formal legal advice and consultation is also available from the Opinions Coordinator, as is information about the informal consultation process.

The questions considered in legal opinions must have an immediate concrete relation to the official duties of the state agency or officer requesting the opinion. Hypothetical or abstract questions, or questions which ask generally about the meaning of a particular statute, lacking a factual underpinning, are not answered.

Formal opinions are not offered on questions raising legal issues that are the subject of pending or likely litigation or that concern ongoing collective bargaining. Questions relating to the wisdom of legislation or administrative or executive policies are not addressed. Generally, formal opinions will not be issued regarding the interpretation of federal statutes or the constitutionality of enacted legislation.

Formal opinion requests from state agencies that report to a cabinet or executive office must first be sent to the appropriate secretary for his or her consideration. If the secretary believes the question raised is one that requires resolution by the attorney general, the secretary then requests the opinion.

Below are the four most recent opinions issued by former administrations.

  • Opinion No. 01/02-1 issued to the Secretary of the Commonwealth on October 11, 2001, regarding the status of certain voter information contained in the Central Voter Registry.

  • Opinion No. 00/01-3 issued to the Executive Director of the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission on May 29, 2001, regarding the scope of field examinations conducted by PERAC of the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board.

  • Opinion No. 00/01-2 issued to the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health on April 25, 2001, regarding whether local boards of health have jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of the Commonwealth's sanitary code against state-owned facilities.

  • Opinion No. 00/01-1 issued to the Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety on October 30, 2000, regarding the scope of enforcement authority vested in the Office of the State Fire Marshal under the Commonwealth's fire safety code as pertaining to state-owned buildings.

The following are opinions that are commonly requested of this Office, issued during previous administrations, listed chronologically.

  • Opinion No. 95/96-1 issued to the Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety on June 12, 1996, regarding whether the Emergency Telecommunications Board has authority, in implementing enhanced 911 service, to designate private ambulance companies as secondary public safety answering points.

  • Opinion No. 96/97-1 issued to the Secretary of the Commonwealth on August 29, 1996, regarding whether proposed ballot questions are ones of "public policy" within the meaning of M.G.L. c. 53, § 19.

  • Opinion No. 98/99-1 issued to the Secretary of the Commonwealth on September 4, 1998, regarding whether proposed ballot questions are ones of "public policy" within the meaning of M.G.L. c. 53, § 19.