Legal Mandates

Brian E. Washington, County Counsel

General Legal Mandates

The County Counsel is the attorney for the County, including the Board of Supervisors and all County officers, departments, boards, and commissions. The primary client of County Counsel is the Board of Supervisors. With the exception of specified core functions of elected officers, County Counsel’s legal services are rendered to other County officers and employees because of their status as agents of the Board of Supervisors.

Specific Legal Mandates

  • To attend meetings of the Board of Supervisors, when required, and to attend and oppose all claims and accounts against the County when such claims and accounts are deemed unjust or illegal. Government Code Section 26256
  • To render legal services, including legal opinions, to the County and all County officers. Government Code Sections 26520 and 27642
  • To defend or prosecute all civil actions and proceedings in which the County or any of its officers are concerned or is a party in his or her official capacity, except where the Board provides other counsel to defend an action or proceeding brought against an officer, employee, or servant. Government Code Section 26529
  • To act as attorney for the Public Administrator in all estates in which the Public Administrator is the executor or administrator as established by law. Government Code Section 27643
  • To represent the County in mental health proceedings as established by law. Government Code Section 27646
  • To represent the County's Department of Social Services in proceedings in which minors are adjudged dependent children of the juvenile court, including proceedings to terminate parental rights. Welfare and Institutions Code Section 318.5
  • Upon request of the Auditor or Treasurer, to defend or prosecute any action brought by or against the Auditor or Treasurer for the purpose of testing the validity or constitutionality of any act of the Legislature or of the Board of Supervisors or of any order providing for the payment of any funds held in the County Treasury in those cases where the interest of the County is not adverse. Government Code Section 26523
  • To prepare a ballot title and summary of a proposed county ballot measure. Elections Code Section 9105
  • To serve as legal advisor to the Grand Jury with respect to civil matters. Penal Code Section 934
  • To appear and defend certification allegations in habeas corpus proceedings brought by persons involuntarily confined for treatment in private hospitals under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. Welfare and Institutions Code Section 5000, et seq.