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Official Opinions


May 2012 Opinions

Please click on Opinion number to view entire opinion.

Official opinions will be posted as they are issued, generally within 24 to 48 hours. Please check this page at regular intervals to determine whether additional opinions have been issued.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Official opinions represent the attorney general’s analysis of current law based on his thorough research of existing statutes, the Virginia and United States constitutions, and relevant court decisions.  Official opinions do not create new law, nor do they change existing law.  Creating and amending laws are the responsibility of the General Assembly, not the attorney general.  

Official opinions are legal advice, not personal opinions, and do not reflect the attorney general’s personal views about what the law should be.  Such advice is provided to ensure clients/the requester are in compliance with the law.  While the opinions may be given deference by the courts, they are not binding on the courts.

The official opinions issued by the attorney general are part of the duties of the office (see Code § 2.2-505).  A person authorized by statute, such as the governor, a member of the General Assembly, a constitutional officer, or the head of a state agency, can ask the attorney general for an official opinion on the law. Members of the general public are not authorized to ask for opinions.


Opinion # Requestor Summary


The Honorable Robert G. Marshall
Member, House of Delegates

Under the only available precedent, the Governor was authorized to divest the Commonwealth of its interest in the Dulles Toll Road as part of the overall project to extend Metrorail, and the agreements between various parties control the circumstances under which Virginia can regain control over the project.  Further, assent of all parties to the MWAA Compact was not required for MWAA to operate the Dulles Toll Road.  Additionally, the agreements signed by Loudoun County detail the scope of its obligation in connection with this project.  Finally, neither the state nor the federal freedom of information statute applies to MWAA.


The Honorable Scott A. Surovell
Member, House of Delegates

The limitations on the General Assembly’s appropriation powers contained in Article IV, § 16 and Article VIII, § 10 of the Constitution of Virginia do not preclude the enactment of statutes allowing tax credits that Virginia taxpayers may claim for making contributions to sectarian entities, nonprofit organizations not controlled by the Commonwealth or to private schools not owned or controlled by the Commonwealth or one of its political subdivisions.


The Honorable Gayl Branum Carr
Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court

Sections 16.1-278.2, 16.1-278.3, 16.2-278.4, 16.1-278.5, 16.1-278.6 and 16.1-278.8 do not require the issuance of a subpoena to a local department of social services, because the department, as a non-party, is not required to attend any proceeding under those statutes.  Nonetheless, should a court want the local department to be present for such proceedings, then a subpoena or other court order can be issued to compel the local department to appear.


The Honorable Stephen D. Newman
Member, Senate of Virginia

Provided the handgun is properly secured in a container or compartment within the vehicle, persons who may lawfully possess a firearm but have not been issued a concealed weapons permit may possess, in a vehicle, a handgun that is loaded and the handgun may remain within reach of a driver or passenger under such conditions. Further, for a handgun to be “secured in a container or compartment,” such storage tool need not be locked.  Finally, an individual may not keep a firearm stored in his vehicle at a place of employment if there is a company policy or signage prohibiting firearms on the premises. 


The Honorable R. Creigh Deeds
Member, Senate of Virginia

The Warm Springs Sanitation Commission is a municipal corporation entitled to sovereign immunity.   


The Honorable Paul Ferguson
Clerk of the Circuit Court
Arlington County

While § 8.01-341(5) provides an exemption from jury service for licensed practicing attorneys, it does not bar lawyers from serving on a jury when a lawyer is willing to waive the exemption.  Further, for the purpose of § 8.01-341(5), a “licensed practicing attorney” is a person licensed to practice law in any state or territory of the United States, including the District of Columbia, who is engaged in the active practice of law.