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Role of the City Attorney

San Diego's City Charter is the "Constitution" of the City-our highest legal authority in the City. PDF icon Section 40 and 40.1 of the City Charter explain the role of the City Attorney:

"The City Attorney shall be the chief legal adviser of, and attorney for the City and all Departments and offices thereof in matters relating to their official powers and duties... It shall be the City Attorney's duty, either personally or by such assistants as he or she may designate, to perform all services incident to the legal department; to give advice in writing when so requested, to the Council, its Committees, the Manager, the Commissions, or Directors of any department [and] to prosecute or defend, as the case may be, all suits or cases to which the City may be a party..."

"The City Attorney shall...prosecute persons charged with or guilty of the violations of the state laws occurring within the city limits of The City of San Diego for offenses constituting misdemeanors."

Under the Charter, the City Attorney has three distinct roles:

  • Advisory - We provide advice to the City and each of its departments, including the City Council and Mayor.
  • Civil Litigation - We prosecute or defend, as the case may be, civil lawsuits in which the City is a party.
  • Criminal - We prosecute criminal misdemeanors and infractions committed within the City limits and in Poway.
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