Conn. bar proposes change to AG qualifications

Jessica M. Karmasek Jan. 11, 2011, 12:11pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - The Connecticut Bar Association says lawmakers should decide on the qualifications of an attorney general candidate, and not the courts.

According to a Monday report in the Danbury NewsTimes, the bar association's executive committee voted in support of a legislative proposal that would amend the state statute on the position's qualifications.

Current state law calls for an attorney general candidate to have at least 10 years of active practice of law.

But the bar association wants to extend that definition to any lawyer who has been "licensed to practice in this state for a continuous period of 10 years immediately prior to taking office," according to the NewsTimes.

The bar association points to the case of former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz.

In May, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Bysiewicz could not run for attorney general because she did not meet the qualifications. The justices ruled unanimously that she did not have 10 years of active practice. She was hoping to replace former attorney general Richard Blumenthal, who ran successfully for the U.S. Senate.

Bysiewicz is an attorney, but served as secretary of state from 1998 until just last week.

Earlier in May, Superior Court Judge Michael Sheldon ruled Bysiewicz was eligible, but the state Supreme Court overruled him.

Bysiewicz's case wasn't the only recent legal challenge to question the qualifications of an attorney general candidate.

Right before the November general election, Republican Martha Dean, a private practice lawyer running for attorney general, filed a last-minute lawsuit questioning her opponent's litigation experience.

Democrat George Jepsen, who won the office, said in response that his 26 years in practice and experience "in virtually every state court" more than satistifed the requirements for attorney general. He went on to call the move "grandstanding" on Dean's part.

Shortly after Jepsen's win, Dean dropped the lawsuit.

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