Attorney General Doug Peterson
Elected as Nebraska’s 32nd Attorney General in 2014, Doug Peterson has dedicated his career to being an advocate for Nebraskans both in state and federal court.
Peterson was born in Columbus, Nebraska and grew up primarily in Lincoln. He graduated from the University of Nebraska with a business degree in 1981, and from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1985. Following law school, Mr. Peterson spent two years in North Platte, Nebraska, prosecuting both criminal and civil cases for the Lincoln County Attorney. From 1988 to 1990, he served as Assistant Attorney General to the Nebraska Attorney General’s office, representing the State in employment law matters and tort litigation. In 1990, Peterson entered private practice, where he had the opportunity to advise and advocate for both individuals and businesses.
In his role as Attorney General, Peterson works closely with law enforcement agencies across the State to ensure that Nebraska communities are safe. Peterson’s office has supported strengthened legislation and enforcement in the areas of human trafficking, prosecution of child sexual assault and abuse, and consumer protection laws to safeguard all Nebraskans.
The Nebraska Department of Justice/Office of the Attorney General operates, in many respects, as the “State’s law firm.” The office is headed by the Nebraska Attorney General, an independently-elected constitutional officer, and is a diverse organization of highly specialized attorneys and support staff. The Attorney General’s Office is the largest “law firm” in Nebraska outside of Omaha.
- Uphold and defend the Constitution and laws of the State of Nebraska;
- Promote and support strong law enforcement;
- Achieve a higher level of public safety and security by promoting vigorous prosecution of murderers, drug dealers, child abusers and other criminals;
- Provide skilled assistance to local prosecutors in fighting illegal drugs and prosecuting child sexual abuse;
- Prosecute consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices, and protect Nebraskans from fraudulent business activities and scams by educating consumers;
- Advise state officials and agencies on proper legal compliance;
- Defend Nebraska’s interests in disputes with other states over water rights and overreach by Federal agencies;
- Protect the public health and safety of Nebraskans by pursuing disciplinary actions when necessary against health care professionals who endanger the public by violations of health regulations and drug laws;
- Provide professional legal representation in all civil proceedings on behalf of the State.
The Criminal Bureau's responsibilities include investigative, prosecutorial, appellate, post-conviction, crime victim advocacy, sex offender commitment and other functions related to criminal law. These responsibilities are split between three sections contained within the Bureau. In the 2016 calendar year, the Bureau handled 654 criminal prosecutions, 1,113 criminal appeals, 171 investigations, 424 unduplicated victims and witnesses served matters and conducted 42 trainings.
The Bureau’s Investigative Section is regularly contacted by a large number of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to assist in a wide variety of investigations, particularly cases of the abuse, assault, or death of children. The Prosecution Section handles cases including but not limited to homicide, sexual assault, drug trafficking, crimes against children, domestic violence and official misconduct. The Prosecution Section also provides direct assistance to county attorneys throughout the state. The Appellate Section handles all direct criminal appeals filed with the Nebraska Supreme Court and Court of Appeals by criminal defendants including all post-conviction appeals and federal habeas matters for the State. The Bureau also provides significant expertise and training to law enforcement officers and county attorneys regarding best practices for criminal investigation, trial procedure, victim-witness advocacy, and human trafficking. The Criminal Bureau has expanded its services over the past biennium with emphasis on victim witness services and leadership of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force.
The Consumer Protection Division (Bureau) enforces state and federal laws that safeguard against deceptive, fraudulent, and unfair business practices. The Division also has enforcement powers over antitrust and monopolistic activities and is responsible for oversight of charitable institutions and assets, including nonprofit corporations, charitable trusts and endowment funds. Furthermore, the Division oversees and enforces compliance with the civil and criminal statutes, regulations, and settlement terms governing the use, manufacture, and sale of tobacco/nicotine products within the State. In addition to enforcement powers, the Bureau provides education outreach on topics that include identity theft, Internet safety, and general fraud, with the goal of teaching consumers how to protect themselves. The Division also offers a mediation service to constructively resolve differences and settle disputes Nebraska consumers may have with a business through the Consumer Protection Division Mediation Center.
Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources
The Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources (AENR) Bureau of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office supervises the litigation support and enforcement of State statutes and regulations for Nebraska state agencies and boards representing the interests of agriculture, the environment and natural resources. These agencies include the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Agriculture, the Game and Parks Commission, the Environmental Trust Board, and State commodity boards. The AENR Bureau also protects the State’s interests in the waters of interstate rivers with respect to interstate water allocations set by Compact or U.S. Supreme Court Decree.
The AENR Bureau provides full legal support for its represented agencies which includes representation in litigation, general legal counsel and advice, the review of contracts, approval of rules and regulations, the drafting of legal opinions and enforcement of agency administrative orders.
The Legal Services Bureau includes two sections – Legal Services and Administrative and Civil Enforcement.
The Legal Services Section provides legal advice and legal services to state agencies, boards, commissions, departments and officers. In addition, Legal Services Section attorneys handle a significant amount of civil litigation involving administrative appeals, state agency defense, probate, election law, escheat, and constitutional litigation, along with Open Meetings/Public Records enforcement. The Legal Services Section researches and drafts the bulk of attorney general’s opinions for review by the Attorney General, and also reviews agency rules and regulations for statutory authority and constitutionality.
The Administrative and Civil Enforcement Section handles all Health Professional Regulation and Licensing, the Liquor Control Commission, One-Call Notification enforcement, Motor Vehicle Operator’s License and Commercial Driver’s License revocations, and the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission.
Civil Litigation Bureau
The Civil Litigation Bureau defends all civil lawsuits filed against the State, its agencies, and State officials and employees. Currently the Civil Litigation Bureau is comprised of twelve assistant attorneys general including the Civil Litigation Bureau Chief who also serves as Nebraska’s Solicitor General. The Civil Litigation Bureau also provides oversight of assistant attorneys general assigned to the Department of Roads.
The types of law suits defended include; torts, federal and state civil rights, employment litigation, inmate suits, worker’s compensation, and challenges to the constitutionality of laws enacted by the Unicameral and to the Nebraska constitution itself. The Civil Litigation Bureau’s duties also include advising the State Tort Claims Board on pending litigation, claims, settlements, and judgments. The Civil Litigation Bureau also contains the Office of the Solicitor General, which manages the most significant civil and criminal appellate cases in both state and federal court.
It is common that Civil Litigation Bureau attorneys provide the state’s defense in lawsuits filed by national law firms or national organization who themselves provide a large team of attorneys devoted to a single case.