independent counsel

noun

Legal Definition of independent counsel

: an official appointed by the court at the request of the U.S. Attorney General to investigate and prosecute criminal violations by high government officials, members of Congress, or directors of a presidential reelection campaign after a preliminary investigation by the Attorney General finds specific and credible evidence that a crime may have been committed

Note: The use of an independent counsel was codified in the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 and is designed to ensure an impartial investigation (as when the Attorney General would face a conflict of interest). The independent counsel was formally called a special prosecutor until 1983.

Comments on independent counsel

What made you want to look up independent counsel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!