Agency Primer: Department of Justice

Agency Primer by IRG:

Wisconsin’s Department of Justice

The Department of Justice’s responsibilities can be divided into two broad categories; legal services and law enforcement/public safety. Legal services encompasses the roles DOJ plays in representing the state in legal matters, advising state agencies, the legislature and governor on legal matters, providing Attorney General opinions on legal issues facing state agencies, and representing the state in criminal appeals.

Prior to statehood, the Wisconsin Attorney General was an appointed position, first by the President and then after by the territorial Governor. The Wisconsin Constitution made the Attorney General an elected position with a two year term.

In 1967, a constitutional amendment made it a 4 year term. In 1967, the Department of Justice led by the Attorney General was created. As part of this reorganization, the State Crime Lab was placed under the department; in addition arson investigations were transferred from the Commissioner of Insurance. In 1969 enforcement of certain drug laws and investigation of organized crime was added to DOJ’s authority. In 1979, crime victims programs were added.

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