Code Section Group

Government Code - GOV


  ( Title 3 added by Stats. 1947, Ch. 424. )

DIVISION 2. OFFICERS [24000 - 28085]

  ( Division 2 added by Stats. 1947, Ch. 424. )

PART 3. OTHER OFFICERS [26500 - 27773]

  ( Part 3 added by Stats. 1947, Ch. 424. )

CHAPTER 12. County Counsel [27640 - 27648]
  ( Chapter 12 added by Stats. 1947, Ch. 424. )


In any county a county counsel may be appointed by the board of supervisors.

(Amended by Stats. 1957, Ch. 1341.)


The county counsel shall serve for four years from the time of his appointment and until his successor is appointed, subject to the following:

(a) He may be removed at any time by proceedings under Article 3 (commencing at Section 3060) of Chapter 7 of Division 4 of Title 1 of the Government Code.

(b) He may be removed at any time by the board of supervisors for neglect of duty, malfeasance or misconduct in office, or other good cause shown, upon written accusation to be filed with the board of supervisors, by a person not a member of the board, and heard by the board and sustained by a three-fifths vote of the board. When an accusation has been so filed with the board, the board may direct the district attorney to investigate and present the accusation or may employ private counsel for that purpose. All testimony before the board shall be under oath or affirmation administered by the board. The board is hereby vested with the power to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers and testimony and shall make such processes available to the accused. A copy of the accusation shall be personally served upon the accused and he shall be given not less than 10 days’ time in which to file a written answer to the accusation. If, after hearing, it appears to the satisfaction of the board that the accusation has been substantiated, the board shall so notify the accused by mail. Such notice shall specifically state the findings and judgment of the board, and the board shall thereupon forthwith remove the accused from office and shall immediately appoint his successor.

(Amended by Stats. 1959, Ch. 1389.)


The residence qualifications for eligibility to a county or district office, required by Section 24001, may be waived by the board of supervisors as to any candidate or applicant for the office of county counsel in such county.

(Amended by Stats. 1963, Ch. 1383.)


Whenever the board of supervisors appoints a county counsel pursuant to this chapter, he shall discharge all the duties vested by law in the district attorney other than those of a public prosecutor.

(Added by Stats. 1947, Ch. 424.)


The board of supervisors may by ordinance require that the county counsel shall act as attorney for the public administrator in all estates in which he or she is executor, administrator with the will annexed, or administrator, where he or she has priority for appointment as established by law, including all cases under Section 7660 of the Probate Code. However, in the case of a noncharter county or a charter county where there is no conflict with the county charter, the public administrator may employ private counsel (a) in those estates in which he or she is nominated and would not otherwise have priority, (b) for those estates in which he or she is appointed administrator with the will annexed, or administrator pursuant to Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 8400) of Division 7 of the Probate Code, and (c) in those estates in which he or she is appointed administrator with the will annexed for the reason the executor nominated in the will has refused to serve. In those matters where the county counsel furnishes representation the county counsel shall collect the attorney’s fees allowed by law and pay them into the county treasury.

(Amended by Stats. 1988, Ch. 1199, Sec. 19. Operative July 1, 1989, by Sec. 119 of Ch. 1199.)


The board of supervisors shall furnish the county counsel with such assistants as will enable him to perform properly the duties of his office.

(Added by Stats. 1947, Ch. 424.)


Subject to Section 26520, the county counsel shall represent and advise the officers and employees of special districts organized within the county and shall have exclusive charge and control of all civil actions and proceedings in which special districts, their officers or employees are concerned or are parties when:

(a) The governing board of the special district requests the county counsel to so act;

(b) The governing board of the special district is composed in whole or in part of persons who are also members of the county board of supervisors; and

(c) No specific provision is made in the law under which the special district is organized for the district to obtain legal services.

(Amended by Stats. 1976, Ch. 800.)


Upon designation by the board of supervisors pursuant to Section 5114 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, the county counsel shall represent the county in proceedings under Part 1 (commencing with Section 5000) of Division 5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.

(Added by Stats. 1970, Ch. 1627.)


(a) If requested to do so by the superior court of the county of the county counsel, or by any judge thereof, and insofar as such duties are not in conflict with, and do not interfere with, other duties, the county counsel may represent any such court or judge thereof in all matters and questions of law pertaining to any of such judge’s duties, including any representation authorized by Section 68111 and representation in all civil actions and proceedings in any court in which with respect to the court’s or judge’s official capacity, such court or judge is concerned or is a party.

(b) This section does not apply to any of the following:

(1) Any criminal proceedings in which a judge is a defendant.

(2) Any grand jury proceedings.

(3) Any proceeding before the Commission on Judicial Qualifications.

(4) Any civil action or proceeding arising out of facts under which the judge was convicted of a criminal offense in a criminal proceeding.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 497, Sec. 144. (AB 991) Effective January 1, 2020.)


If, because of a declared conflict of interest, any judge, who is otherwise entitled to representation pursuant to Section 825, 995, or 27647, is required to retain his own counsel, such judge is entitled to recover from the appropriate public entity such reasonable attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses as were necessarily incurred thereby.

(Added by Stats. 1977, Ch. 745.)

GOVGovernment Code - GOV