Private Attorney General

By James Coghill

I’m a paralegal not a lawyer. What I am about to write should not be construed in any way as legal advice and this information is provided for your education only, freely given without charge. What you do with this knowledge is entirely up to you.

To get into court as a normal citizen and raise a claim you must have a legal standing to be there and you must prove it to the court. This works to prevent frivolous claims. Otherwise you must hire a lawyer which then gains you admission to the club. The lawyer then serves as a filter for frivolous cases.

What most people don’t know is what is contained in Civil Rights Act of 1866 which makes every citizen a Private Attorney General. This was something new to me. After 15 years of working with the law I had never seen this before which is why I present this info here. Even my father an attorney for 50 years hadn’t heard of this. The quotation below comes from Coralyn Hill vs. The State of Arizona DUNS number: 072459266

According to the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 14 Stat. 27, enacted April 9, 1866, (and sometimes referred to as The Private Attorney General Act), 39th Congress, Session 1, Ch 31 (1866), CHAP. XXXL, (Formally titled): An Act to “Protect all Persons in the United States in their Civil Rights, and Furnish the Means of their Vindication,” April 9, 1866; Public Law 104-317, Oct 19, 1996, 110 Stat 3853; 93 stat 1284; Public Law 96-170, 96th Congress, Dec 9th 1979.4:

“Private attorney general is an informal term usually used today in the United States to refer to a private party who brings a lawsuit considered to be in the public interest, i.e., benefiting the general public and not just the plaintiff. The person considered “private attorney general” is entitled to recover attorney’s fees if he or she prevails. The rationale behind this principle is to provide extra incentive to private citizens to pursue suits that may be of benefit to society at large.”

The private attorney general, made its first appearance in the legal literature in a 1943 decision, by Judge Jerome Frank, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. See Assoc. Indus. of New York v. Ickes, 134 F.2d 694, 704 (2d Cir. 1943). Judge Frank concluded that Congress could authorize a private citizen to file suit even if the sole purpose of the case were to vindicate the public interest as opposed to some private interest of the litigant: “Such persons, so authorized, are, so to speak, private Attorney Generals.”

In drawing this conclusion, Judge Frank analogized this citizen suit to a qui tam action. Id. at 704-705 discussing U.S. ex rel. Marcus v. Hess, 317 U.S. 537 (1942)); and also Colorado Radio Corp. v. F.C.C., 118 F.2d 24, 28 (D.C. Cir. 1941) (Edgerton, J.,concurring).

The plaintiff holds the position as a private Attorney General, under the 1866 Vindication and Civil Rights of the 39th Congress. This Congressional Act gives the Plaintiff the authority to step in, when the states fail or the government fails to uphold and protect the rights of the citizens. It allows the plaintiff to act as a prosecutor, and enable him to bring charges on those who hold public office and hold them accountable for their misdeeds and misconduct, in breach of their trustee duties as fiduciaries; as is written in the Lieber Code, Under General Orders No. 100. This includes insurrection and rebellion, and misuses of their/that public office in order to abuse and to incite riot among the peaceful inhabitants, as well as endanger the lives and health of United States Citizens.

The part in quotes really says it all. Any citizen can bring a case before the court as long as it impacts the public interest, and benefits the general public, not just the plaintiff. I don’t see any reason this law can’t be used to our benefit. All we have to do is use our imagination till something sticks on the wall. You see. In real American Government you are the most powerful element of all. They just want you to never learn that because they can’t control you once the tombstones have been lifted from your eyes.

– James Coghill ( )

3 thoughts on “Private Attorney General

  1. James, your email doesn’t come through.
    Can you provide a working email or phone #?
    Thank you.

  2. James,
    You are a good writer and a paralegal. If you are interested, please see our volunteer positions;
    Research Assistants are active in a legal project for NARSOL’s foundation. We could always use more help from people who know a thing or two about law.

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