California is among several states that have quietly created or enlarged their solicitor general offices in the past two years. Dan Schweitzer, U.S. Supreme Court counsel for the National Association of Attorneys General, says states are seeing increasing importance in vigorously defending their laws, and they're recognizing that it requires specific skills.
California has a particularly seasoned new advocate in Edward DuMont. He was nominated to the federal bench in 2010 by President Obama but withdrew after waiting 18 months for a Senate hearing.
A former vice chair of Wilmer Hale's U.S. Supreme Court practice and a former associate deputy U.S. attorney general, DuMont appeared before the high court in late April, just three months after taking office. In Riley v. California (Docket No. 13-132) he argued that a warrantless police search of an arrestee's cell phone - which revealed alleged gang contacts - was constitutional because it was on the arrestee's person during a traffic stop.
"One of the most interesting things about this role is that since California is such a large state, we are routinely involved in litigation that has national policy implications," says DuMont, only the second person to hold the office. (The first solicitor general, Manuel Medeiros, took office in 2002 and retired in 2012.)
Under the direction of state Attorney General Kamala Harris, DuMont plans to focus on cases that have broad public-policy impact. Harris has promised to boost the office to eleven attorneys from the team of three launched by former AG Bill Lockyer.