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Official Opinions


January 2014 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.  They are not "rulings" and 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 #



Honorable J. Chapman Petersen, Member, Senate of Virginia

Several questions regarding the recently amended Article I, § 11, of the Constitution of Virginia, the related legislation contained in §§ 25.1-100 and 25.1-230.1 of the Code of Virginia, and a previous opinion of this Office that concern the power of eminent domain as it relates to just compensation owing for lost access.

Honorable Terry G. Kilgore, Member, House of Delegates

It is not a violation of the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act for members of the Commission to vote on transactions before the Commission where such transaction involves an entity or organization represented by a consulting or law firm where a member’s sibling is a partner, unless such sibling resides in the same household with the member or the member is dependent on the sibling or the sibling is dependent on the member.

Honorable Robert G. Marshall, Member, House of Delegates

A Governor may not direct or require any agency of state government to allow same-sex couples to receive joint marital status for Virginia income tax returns. Such a directive would represent an attempt to exercise legislative powers in violation of the constitutionally mandated separation of powers and would also violate the express terms of Article I, § 15-A of the Virginia Constitution.

Honorable John A. Cosgrove, Member, Senate of Virginia

Subject to the outcome of litigation that may, or may not, change the status of current law, the Technical Release issued by the U.S. Department of Labor respecting employee benefits plans in the wake of United States v. Windsor should not be considered as legally binding to the extent that it conflicts with Section 2 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Article I, § 15-A of the Constitution of Virginia.

Honorable Michele McQuigg, Clerk of Court, Prince William County Circuit Court

An electronic case management system that provides the contents of an order book as prescribed in § 17.1-124, that is created using an electronic recording process compliant with the archival standards as recommended by the Library of Virginia, and that follows state electronic records guidelines as provided in § 42.1-82, fulfills the requirement of an order book as described in § 17.1-124.

Honorable Robert G. Marshall, Member, House of Delegates

While the Governor has a significant role to play in the formulation of regulations promulgated by executive branch agencies, the Virginia Constitution prohibits the Governor from unilaterally suspending the operation of regulations that have the force of law.

Honorable Faye Mitchell, Clerk, Circuit Court for the City of Chesapeake

Pursuant to the exemption provided by 12 U.S.C. § 1768, Federal credit unions are exempted from paying the recordation tax imposed on grantees by § 58.1-801 of the Code of Virginia.