Tierney Says Illinois Attorney General Can Take Action in Blagojevich Controversy


James Tierney heads the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School

Press Contact: Sonia von Gutfeld, 212-854-1453, [email protected]
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December 11, 2008 (NEW YORK) – James Tierney, director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School, is available to speak with media about the authority of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to petition for the removal of Governor Rod Blagojevich from office. Blagojevich was charged Tuesday with federal corruption. Madigan has said she is prepared to take action if Blagojevich does not resign.

Tierney: “Most people don’t know that the attorney general can sue his or her own governor. But a state attorney general is the lawyer for the people of the state – not just for the office holders or the bureaucracy.
“If an elected official fails in his or her duties and the fundamental integrity of the government is at risk, an attorney general has the discretion to act independently to protect the public from ongoing harm.
“Impeachment is a vital method to remove an office holder from his or her position, but it is not necessarily the exclusive remedy. A state attorney general can move quickly to stop an official’s continuing illegal behavior even as impeachment proceedings occur. Further, an attorney general can ask the state's judiciary to temporarily strip an office holder of authority pending impeachment.
“The office holder has recourse to counsel and the opportunity to make his or her case before the courts. That said, it is part of the attorney general's responsibilities to advocate for the public interest.”
Tierney, the former attorney general of Maine, is available to speak with reporters about the power of the attorney general in the Blagojevich controversy. 
Tierney can be reached directly at 207-837-1877 or [email protected].

James E. Tierney is the director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School, where he has also taught as a lecturer-in-law since the fall of 2000. Tierney served as the attorney general of Maine from 1980 until 1990. He is currently a consultant to attorneys general and others.
The National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School is a legal research, education and policy center that examines the legal and policy implications of the work of state attorneys general. Collaborating with attorneys general, academics and other members of the legal community, the Program develops and distributes legal information that state prosecutors can use to carry out their civil and criminal roles.

Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, criminal, and environmental law.