Role of Solicitor General
"The Solicitor General is not a neutral, he is an advocate; but an advocate for a client whose business is not merely to prevail in the instant case. My client's chief business is not to achieve victory but to establish justice. [T]he Government wins its point when justice is done in its courts."
Florida Bar Journal, July/Aug 2001 (quoting a former U.S. Solicitor General).
The Solicitor General is a position within the Office of the Attorney General. Created at the request of the Attorney General in February 1999, the position was patterned after the U.S. Solicitor General. The Solicitor General is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Attorney General.
The Solicitor General oversees civil and criminal appeals involving the State and has the authority to decide whether the State should appeal a case to the Florida Supreme Court, United States Supreme Court, or the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal, as well as the authority to decide whether the State should file or join an amicus brief in state or federal court, primarily the Florida Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court.
The Solicitor General reviews each petition for review filed in the Florida Supreme Court in civil cases to determine whether the case involves an issue of statewide importance in which the State should be involved. When such a case is identified, the Solicitor General researches the legal and policy issues implicated in the case and consults with potentially affected State agencies. The Solicitor General will then determine whether the State should intervene in the case or appear as amicus curiae.
The Solicitor General also monitors those cases in the Attorney General’s Office that involve the constitutionality of a statute, the interpretation of a constitutional provision, the functions of government, or other matter of great public interest. In cases that will likely progress to the Florida Supreme Court, the Solicitor General provides input at the trial and intermediate appellate courts to ensure that the case is in the best posture for the Florida Supreme Court’s review.
The Solicitor General evaluates the requests of other states for Florida to join an amicus brief being prepared in cases pending in the United States Supreme Court or other federal courts. When a request for amicus participation is received, the Solicitor General reviews the lower court decision and researches Florida and Eleventh Circuit law to determine whether the case impacts an interest important to Florida. The Solicitor General generally will not recommend joining an amicus brief in support of a petition for certiorari where the Eleventh Circuit’s law is favorable to the State; however, if the court grants the petition, the Solicitor General will consider joining or filing a brief to preserve the favorable state law. In addition to its independent research on the issues presented in the case, the Solicitor General coordinates review with assistant attorney generals who specialize in the legal issues implicated by the case, as well as the Governor’s Office, the Legislature, and appropriate state agencies. Once the Solicitor General determines that the State of Florida should join an amicus brief prepared by another state or prepare its own amicus brief, the Solicitor General discusses the issue with the Attorney General. The Solicitor General then reviews and provides comments on the draft brief prepared by the other state or prepares its own brief.
The Solicitor General is sometimes contacted by private attorneys requesting that the Solicitor General file an amicus brief in a case between private litigants. The Solicitor General considers each request and independently researches the issues presented in the case to determine whether or how the State’s interests may be implicated by the case.