Both by law and by inherent power, the Attorney General and his office render written legal opinions when requested by authorized government officials and when the request involves legal questions that are within the proper purview of the office. Persons who may request opinions are the Governor, a member of the General Assembly, a judge, the State Corporation Commission, a Commonwealth's Attorney, a local government attorney, a clerk of a court of record, a sheriff, a treasurer, a commissioner of the revenue, a chairman or secretary of an electoral board, and the head of a state agency.
An opinion may be an official advisory opinion, which is signed by the Attorney General, represents his official view, and is published. It may also be an informal opinion, which is signed by some attorney other than the Attorney General, does not necessarily represent the official view of the Attorney General, and is not published. In addition, the Virginia State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act provides that a state official may request an opinion about whether particular facts would place the official in violation of the Act.
Those opinions which are public records are posted on the Attorney General's website and are also available through several commercial legal research systems.
While not legally binding, opinions of the Attorney General are frequently relied on by courts and members of the General Assembly, in addition to the officials to whom they are addressed.
As Opinions Counsel, G. Timothy Oksman is responsible for coordinating the preparation of legal opinions issued by the office. He is a graduate of Hobart College, New York University, and the University of Virginia School of Law. He came to Virginia after returning from Vietnam, where he served with the 20th Engineer Brigade (Combat) in III Corps and IV Corps as a reporter and photographer.
Most of his career has been in public service, including working under Prof. Antonin Scalia in the Virginia Appellate Justice Project, as Assistant Henrico County Attorney under legendary County Manager E. A. Beck, as Richmond City Attorney (Mayors Geline Williams and Walter Kenney), and as Portsmouth City Attorney (Mayors Gloria Webb, James W. Holley, III, and Bernard L. Griffin, Jr.). While in local government, he participated in numerous projects to improve the quality of life for citizens in his communities, including the creation of Meadow Farm Park (Henrico); restoration and redevelopment of Richmond's historic canals and developing the Blackwell financial services center (Richmond); and the APM Marine Terminal, the Renaissance Hotel and Conference Center, and nTelos Pavilion Performing Arts Center (Portsmouth).
He has been involved extensively in historic preservation, is a founding member and past President of Local Government Attorneys of Virginia, and is a member of the Virginia Maritime Association and Sons of Union Veterans (Admiral John L. Worden Camp).
He and his wife Pam have two grown children: Carly, an Old Dominion University graduate, and Delaney, a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
G. Timothy Oksman
Office of the Attorney General
202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, VA 23219