New York’s solicitor general Tuesday defended the attorney general’s involvement in litigation to force former New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard A. Grasso to give back some of his $185 million compensation package.

Barbara D. Underwood argued before the seven members of the Court of Appeals that Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo’s common law power of parens patriae allows him to act as the protector of the rights of those who are unable to protect themselves.

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