The attorney general’s Office cannot invoke its limited criminal jurisdiction based only on a referral from an in-house adjunct when the adjunct does not clearly have subject matter referral authority, the New York Court of Appeals held Tuesday.

In a unanimous opinion, the court overturned a conviction for operating an illegal adult home and said that while the attorney general could have acted on a referral from the governor or an agency head, it cannot use a referral from the welfare inspector general to justify an intrusion into what is normally the turf of the local district attorney. It reminded the attorney general that under a 2002 opinion, he “now has no power to prosecute crimes unless specifically permitted by law.”

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