The Civil Division represents the State of Louisiana, its departments and agencies, boards and commissions, and statewide elected officials. Its litigation reflects the diversity of government activities, involving, for example, the defense of challenges to state programs, actions and laws; debt collection owed to the state; and protection of the state’s natural resources, lands and water bottoms. The division also initiates litigation to enforce various state laws, including, for example, the master settlement agreement against the nation’s largest tobacco manufacturers.
The Civil Division issues written legal opinions to the governor, the state auditor, the state treasurer, state boards, agencies and commissions, the district attorneys of the state, and parish and municipal governing authorities. The Department of Justice receives hundreds of legal questions every year from state and local authorities, resulting in opinions that carry significant weight in the legal community.
The Civil Division includes the following sections: Governmental / Litigation, Education, Public Finance and Contracts, Environmental, and Lands and Natural Resources.
Director: Chester Cedars
Chester Cedars is the former lead prosecutor for St. Martin Parish. In addition to prosecuting several police misconduct cases and handling police-involved shootings, Cedars also represented several government entities including: the St. Martin Sheriff’s Office, the St. Martin Parish School Board, the St. Martin Parish Government, and the City of Breaux Bridge – where he was recognized as the Citizen of the Year by the Breaux Bridge Chamber of Commerce. He successfully prosecuted Derrick Todd Lee and Brian Francis. Cedars has received the AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating Award, the highest rating for legal ethics and ability. He is licensed to practice law in every federal court in Louisiana as well as before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. A member of the Louisiana District Attorney’s Association and the National District Attorney’s Association, Cedars earned his bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and his law degree from the Louisiana State University Law Center.
Governmental / Litigation
The Governmental / Litigation Section protects key interests of the state through competent, professional and aggressive representation of state agencies and officials in both state and federal courts. Governmental / Litigation attorneys defend state interests in civil cases involving non-tort liability and constitutional challenges to state laws. A high rate of success and a continuing body of favorable case law are a reflection of the skill, diligence and quality of the Governmental / Litigation attorneys. Governmental / Litigation attorneys also offer other services to state and local agencies such as providing ongoing legal advice, rendering attorney general opinions, prosecuting regulatory violations, and presiding over adjudications as hearing officers.
The Governmental / Litigation Section also represents a number of state officials, boards, and commissions, including the legislature, the governor, and various cabinet agencies. The section handles reapportionment and election cases both independently and in conjunction with other state officials and provides legal representation, advice, and educational publications for the state’s 776 elected Justices of the Peace and Constables.
***** The Attorney General has statutory responsibility to appoint outside legal counsel for State agencies, boards, and commissions. The Contract for Professional Legal Services Template posted in the “More Resources” section of this webpage is the form accepted by the Office. Any non-conforming contract submitted by an agency, board, or commission may result in approval delays. *****
The Education Section represents and provides legal advice to various officials and public agencies on education related matters. Specifically, it represents and advises the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Board of Regents, the Department of Education, and various other public agencies. The Education Section responds to requests for attorney general opinions from the various state and local school boards on issues related to elementary, secondary, and higher education.
Public Finance and Contracts
The Public Finance and Contracts Section has the responsibility for the preparation and review of all legal documents required for issuance of state general obligation bonds and state revenue anticipation notes. Additionally, this section reviews all items brought before the State Bond Commission and responds to the questions and concerns of the members and staff on all areas of finance law. Opinions rendered by this section center around areas of taxation, public finance, public bid law, contracts, and use of public funds.
The Environmental Section assists the attorney general in the discharge of his duties under the Environmental Quality Act and the Constitution of the State of Louisiana. The attorney general, as chief legal officer of the state, has the constitutional responsibility and power to institute, prosecute, or intervene in any civil action in order to assert or protect a state natural resource interest. Staff personnel attend hearings throughout the state, visit problem sites, and meet with representatives of both government and industry to seek resolution of environmental problems.
Lands and Natural Resources
The Lands and Natural Resources Section advises and renders legal support to state agencies, levee boards, commissions, and political subdivisions pertaining to lands, waterbottoms, boundaries, accretion and erosion, oil and gas, public rights of use and access, sale and acquisition of lands, expenditure of public funds, and other related matters. This section defends the title of the state and its political subdivisions to land and waterbottoms, and safeguards the interests of the state in lands and mineral transactions.