Browning was born in Charleston in 1934. He received his bachelor's degree from West Virginia University in 1956. In 1958, he received his law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law. While studying at WVU, he served as the editor-in-chief of the West Virginia Law Review.
Following graduation, Browning served as a law clerk to Benjamin Franklin Moore, who was then a United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of West Virginia before going on to practice law in Charleston. He subsequently served as the state Commissioner of Public Institutions.
Browning was elected Attorney General in 1968 and re-elected in 1972, 1976 and 1980. He was the first Attorney General to serve four terms in West Virginia's history. He is also the only West Virginia Attorney General to have served as president of the National Association of Attorneys General.
During his tenure, Browning established the Consumer Protection Division and reviewed and revised environmental and natural resources laws, rules and regulations. Also during his tenure, West Virginia sued the Pittston Co. for $100 million due to the damage caused by the 1972 Buffalo Creek mining disaster. Then-Governor Arch Moore later settled the suit for $1 million.
Browning did not seek re-election in 1984 and left office in January 1985. He returned to his private law practice where he continued to work until his 2008 retirement.
Browning died on January 1, 2010 at Charleston Area Medical Center. He was 75 years of age.
C. Donald Robertson
|Attorney General of