Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Pending Attorney General's Office Formal Opinion Requests

The Washington Attorney General issues formal published opinions in response to requests by the heads of state agencies, state legislators, and county prosecuting attorneys.  When the Attorney General's Office receives a request for a formal opinion, a summary of that opinion request will be published here and distributed via our mailing list

Formal Requests:

Informal Requests:

If you are interested in commenting on any of these requests, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest by the date listed below each request.  This is not the due date by which comments must be received.  However, if you do not notify the Attorney General’s Office of your interest in commenting on an opinion request by this date, the opinion may be issued before your comments have been received. 

 You may notify the Attorney General’s Office of your intention to comment by:

  • Writing to the Office of the Attorney General, Solicitor General Division, Attention: Jeff Even, Deputy Solicitor General, P.O. Box 40100, Olympia, Washington 98504-0100;  or
  • Emailing opinioncomments@atg.wa.gov.

When you notify the office of your intention to comment, you may be provided with:

  • A copy of the opinion request in which you are interested;
  • Information about the Attorney General’s Opinion process;
  • Information on how to submit your comments; and 
  • A due date by which your comments must be received to ensure that they are fully considered.

 

Formal Opinion Requests:



 

Opinion Docket No. 21-09-03 : Request by The Honorable Skyer Rude, State Representative, District 16

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office by October 15, 2021. 

 

SET ONE:

1. Do RCW 71.05.150 and RCW 71.05.153 establish a legal duty for peace officers? And would the decision to not respond pursuant to these provisions constitute a breach of a legal duty?

2. If a peace officer is not authorized to use physical force to conduct an investigatory detention where there is reasonable suspicion, but not probable cause as required by RCW 10.120.020(1), that the person is involved in criminal activity, then can the person lawfully evade or flee the officer attempting to conduct the investigation? In the absence of the circumstances delineated in RCW 10.120.020(1), under what authority, if any, could the officer pursue a fleeing suspect? Can the officer use physical force to stop or detain a fleeing suspect?

3. Does RCW 10.120.020(2)(a) require peace officers to leave the scene where there is a high likelihood of the use of physical force and where there is no threat of imminent harm and no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity? If a peace officer is required to leave a scene under such circumstances, would it be reasonable for a peace officer to not respond to a scene because information known to the peace officer indicates that there is a high likelihood of the use of physical force and that there is no threat of imminent harm and no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity? Would the refusal to respond to such a scene breach a legal duty? And would that constitute an exception to the Public Duty Doctrine?

4. How should RCW 10.120.020(1)(b) be read together with RCW 9A.16.040?

5. How should RCW 10.120.020 be read in context of the Court's ruling in Graham v. Connor?

6. Is RCW 10.120.020 consistent with the Court's "objectively reasonable" standard in Graham v. Connor?

7. Is a peace officer's use of force lawful if it is consistent with the Court's ruling in Graham v. Connor but is not consistent with RCW 10.120.020?

 

SET TWO:

1. Do the restrictions on the acquisition and use of "firearms and ammunition of .50 caliber or greater" in RCW 10.116.040 apply only to pistols, rifles, and conventional ammunition typically measured by caliber? Put another way, does the same provision prohibit the acquisition and use of a firearm or conventional ammunition measuring at .50 inches or greater even if the particular firearm or conventional ammunition is not typically measured by caliber, including, for example, shotguns and shotgun slugs?

2. Does RCW 10.116.040 prohibit law enforcement agencies from acquiring and/or using any firearm with a barrel diameter of .50 inches or greater even if the device is being acquired and/or used for the purpose of deploying less lethal alternatives?

3. Does RCW 10.116.040 prohibit law enforcement agencies from acquiring and/or using less lethal alternatives (i.e. rubber bullets, beanbag rounds, tear gas rounds, flash bang rounds, baton rounds, and other less lethal projectiles) with a diameter of .50 inches or greater?

Entire text of original request

 


 

Opinion Docket No. 21-08-02 : Request by The Honorable Roger Goodman, State Representative, District 45 and The Honorable Jesse Johnson, State Representative, District 30

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office by September 24, 2021. 

1. What constitutes "physical force" in the context of the standard in E2SHB 1310?

2. Does the standard in E2SHB 1310 preclude an officer from using physical force in the context of an investigatory detention (based on reasonable suspicion and not probable cause) when it becomes apparent that an individual will not otherwise comply with the request to stop?

3. In light of the standard in E2SHB 1310, are the provisions of Chapter 71.05 RCW, Chapter 13.34 RCW, Chapter 43.185C RCW, and other statutes and court orders (civil or criminal) authorizing or directing a law enforcement officer to take a person into custody to be interpreted as authorizing the officer to use physical force when necessary for that purpose?

4. In light of the standard in E2SHB 1310, is a law enforcement officer authorized to use physical force pursuant to the emergency aid doctrine, where there is no "imminent threat of bodily injury to the officer, another person, or the person against whom force is being used"? Does using physical force in this manner breach a legal duty to leave the scene, and would an officer’s efforts constitute an exception to the Public Duty Doctrine under the rescue doctrine?

5. Read together, does section 3(3) of E2SHB 1310 effectively authorize a law enforcement officer to use a chokehold or neck restraint "to protect against his or her life or the life of another person from an imminent threat" despite the specific prohibition of such tactics in section 2 of Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1054 (2021)?

6. How should the terms "possible, "available," and "appropriate" in section 3 of E2SHB 1310 be interpreted? Should those terms be interpreted according to their common definitions or according to the "reasonable officer" standard established under Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989), which provides that "the 'reasonableness' of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight"?

Entire text of original request

 


 

Opinion Docket No. 21-07-02 : Request by Gregory Banks, Prosecuting Attorney, Island County

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office by September 3, 2021. 

Where a prosecutor knows of information about a law enforcement officer that constitutes potential impeachment evidence, under what circumstances may the officer's information or name be removed from any list of potential impeachment disclosures?

Entire text of original request

​​


 

Opinion Docket No. 21-07-03 : Request by the Honorable Jeff Holy, State Senator, District 6

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office by August 25, 2021. 

Does RCW 35.63.161 prevent a local government from ordering the removal or phased elimination of an existing manufactured housing community for nonconforming use when the basis for the local government's nonconforming use determination is the protection of a military installation from incompatible development, as mandated by the Growth Management Act, RCW 36.70A.530(3)?

Entire text of original request

 


 

​​Opinion Docket No. 21-06-02 : Request by the Honorable Jim Honeyford, State Senator, District 15

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office by July 14, 2021.

  1. When would a complete set of design documents created by an engineer for a non-agriculture and non-residential building that exceeds four thousand square feet amount to the practice of engineering as authorized in 18.43 RCW?

  2. If the complete set of design documents is considered the practice of engineering as authorized by 18.43 RCW would those documents fall under the exemption to architectural licensing provided in RCW 18.08.410(1)?

Entire text of original request

 


​​Opinion Docket No. 21-03-01 : Request by Dr. David May, Interim President, Eastern Washington University

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office by April 24, 2021.

  1. Does EWU's Academic Senate constitute a governing body under the OPMA requiring it to comply with the OPMA?

    The intent to comment must be received by April 24, 2021.

Entire text of original request

 

 


 

Opinion Docket No. 20-07-01 : Request by Lin-Marie Nacht, Chair, Commission on Judicial Conduct

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office by November 25, 2020.

Absent a constitutional amendment, can the CJC create a rule, consistent with Article IV §31, under the CJCRP to request the Washington Supreme Court to order the interim suspension of a judge or justice charged with or convicted of a felony or any judge or justice suffering from a mental, emotional, psychological, or physical disability that renders them unable to fulfill their judicial duties, and whose continued service would pose an immediate and substantial harm to the public or to the administration of justice?

Entire text of original request

 


 

Opinion Docket No. 20-07-02 : Request by the Honorable Monica Stonier, State Representative, District 49

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office by September 2, 2020.

Does the authority of school districts to offer school-based health clinics remain limited in the manner described by AGO 1988 No. 2 and AGO 1989 No. 17 in light of subsequent legislation

Entire text of original request

 


 

Informal Opinion Requests:



 

​​Opinion Docket No. 21-09-01 : Request by the Honorable Alex Ramel, State Representative, District 40

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office by October 22, 2021. 

(1)    If a municipal electric utility or public utility district adopts a beneficial electrification plan complying with section 16 or 17, respectively, would the expenditure of utility funds pursuant to that plan (e.g., investing in the electrification of customer equipment) be permissible under Washington law, including the state constitution?

(2)    If a municipal electric utility or public utility district adopted a plan complying with section 19 or 21, respectively, to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions or achieve net-zero emissions, would the expenditure of utility funds for the purpose of achieving quantifiable and verified reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from homes and businesses receiving retail electric service from the utility be permissible under Washington law, including the state constitution?

(3)    Does the proposed legislation allow a municipal electric utility or public utility district to expend utility funds in a manner that results in existing structures converting from one energy source to another, if consistent with a plan adopted under sections 16, 17, 19, or 21?

Entire text of original request

 


 

​​Opinion Docket No. 21-06-04 : Request by the Honorable Alicia Rule, State Representative, District 42

The Attorney General’s Office seeks public input on the following opinion request. If you are interested in commenting on this request, you should notify the Attorney General’s Office by August 21, 2021. 

Does "personnel" include volunteer board members when personnel issues are discussed in closed session meetings?

Entire text of original request

 


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