A Law Point

Schwartz, W. B. - 1891-08-13A LAW POINT

What is Thought of Attorney General Smith’s Opinion by Brazil Attorneys – – Will the Board Employ Griffin

In yesterday’s DEMOCRAT we stated that the City School Board had referred the matter of the propsed employment of Frank Griffin to the Attorney General for his opinion, which we learn from the Superintendent Chillson and the School Board is not the case, but that it was brought to his attention by Griffin himself. The fact that the Attorney General addressed the document to the Board in answer to the question raised led us to say what we did, in the absence of knowledge to the contrary. The opinion of Mr. Smith in the case is wholly gratuitous, no school officer, neither high nor low, having asked him for it.

It is plainly evident that the Attorney General is not familiar with all the facts in the case. He assumes that Griffin has heretofore been employed in our city schools, which is not the case. Then, again, he goes on the presumption that Mr. G. failed to teach the full school tern for the year 1890-91, because the County Superintendent’s revocation of his license, which is declared an illegal procedure, wholly unfounded in law, while, as a matter of fact, Griffin resigned the school voluntarily.

The opinion of the Attorney General in the construction of law is presumed to be good until set aside by decisions of the courts, when asked for by officers as a guide to the discharge of their duties under the Statue. Under his letter of instructions the City School Board may proceed to employ Griffin without any license or recognition on the part of the County Superintendent. In case he is so employed, Superintendent Chillson has given notice that he will test the matter in the courts.

A representative of the DEMOCRAT obtained the following expressions from our city attorneys bearing upon the Attorney-General’s opinion:

George A. Knight – The Attorney-General being the law adviser of State officers, and having elected to give an opinion to the School Board of this city on their right to employ Mr. Griffin, notwithstanding the fact of the County School Superintendent’s attempt to revoke his license, and in the absence of a decision of the courts upon the subject, the School Board is justified in employing Griffin as a teacher in the schools of the city. I examined the law carefully before the Hon. Attorney General  published his opinion and reached substantially the same conclusion, and I believe his construction of the law to be correct.

Robert Fisher – If the facts upon which the Attorney General has given his opinion are correctly stated, the Board would be authorized to act in accordance with the opinion and would not be liable upon their bond for any loss accruing to the city from their acts. They are personally responsible for the correctness of the statement of facts. They render themselves responsible for the correctness of the facts by acting upon the opinion.

W. B. Schwartz – If Griffin taught any part of the school year and would have taught the full school year had he not been interfered with by the Superintendent, he has not forfeited his pre-emption license, and the attempted revocation by the County Superintendent is illegal and the City School Board will be authorized to pay him public money.

“A Law Point,” Brazil Democrat (Brazil, Indiana), 13 August 1891, p. 2, col. 1; digital image, Newspaper Archive (http://www.newspaperarchive.com : accessed 5 Feburay 2014).

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