In the 1922 general election, Democrats swept back into power in Colorado with the election of William Sweet as Governor and Russel W. Fleming as Attorney General. Fleming was born in Bainbridge, Georgia in 1879. His family was prominent in the state. His father had been an officer in the Confederate Army and became an attorney. His grandfather was a Judge. Russel Fleming was admitted to the bar at age nineteen in 1897, despite not having a college education.
Fleming suffered from ill health as a young man and came to Colorado in 1905 at the recommendation of doctors. He convalesced in Boulder and Estes Park for some time. When his health improved he set up a law practice in Fort Collins. He was appointed District Attorney of the Eighth Judicial District including Boulder, Weld, Larimer and Jackson Counties in 1915 to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of George Carlsen, who had been elected Governor. Fleming was elected District Attorney in 1916 and 1920 and served until his election as Attorney General in November of 1922. Winton Ault, one of his former law partners, became one of his Assistant Attorneys General.
Fleming developed a special expertise in irrigation law and in oil and gas. He devoted considerable time to the development of oil fields in northern Colorado. Oil had been discovered in the Wellington Field north of Fort Collins in 1922.
Tenuous health was always a factor for Fleming and on Christmas Day, 1923, he died suddenly of blood poisoning due to an infected arm. He had been in office less than a year. He became the first of several Colorado Attorneys General who would die in office. Fleming was eulogized as one whose “dominant nature survived his difficulties” and allowed him to rise to the top of his profession and become one of the ablest lawyers in Colorado.