Legal Definition of Officer

An officer is any person authorized by law to perform the duties of the office.2 min read

Any person authorized by law to perform the duties of the office 1 USC. He who is lawfully invested with an office. Officers may be classed into:

  1. Executive; as the President of the United States of America, the several governors of the different states. Their duties are pointed out in the national constitution, and the constitutions of the several states, but they are required mainly to cause the laws to be executed and obeyed.
  2. The legislative; such as members of congress; and of the several state legislatures. These officers are confined in their duties by the constitution, generally to make laws, though sometimes in cases of impeachment, one of the houses of the legislature exercises judicial functions, somewhat similar to those of a grand jury by presenting to the other articles of impeachment; and the other house acts as a court in trying such impeachments. The legislatures have, besides the power to inquire into the conduct of their members, judge of their elections and the like.
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  4. Judicial officers; whose duties are to decide controversies between individuals, and accusations made in the name of the public against persons charged with a violation of the law.
  5. Ministerial officers; or those whose duty it is to execute the mandates, lawfully issued, of their superiors. Military officers, who have commands in the army; and
  6. Naval officers; who are in command in the navy. Officers are required to exercise the functions which belong to their respective offices. The neglect to do so, may, in some cases, subject the offender to an indictment and in others, he will be liable to the party injured.

Public and Not Public Officers

Officers are also divided into public officers and those who are not public. Some officers may bear both characters; for example, a clergyman is a public officer when he acts in the performance of such a public duty as the marriage of two individuals and he is merely a private person when he acts in his more ordinary calling of teaching his congregation.

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