AG qualifications bill progresses in Connecticut
HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - A bill that would clarify the qualifications for being Connecticut's attorney general has passed the General Assembly's judiciary committee.
The committee voted 29-15 in favor of the measure on Thursday, according to The Associated Press. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further action, the AP reported.
The legislation, House Bill 6342, seeks to amend the state statute so that those individuals running for attorney general be admitted to the state's Bar "for a continuous period of at least 10 years immediately prior to taking office."
Current state law calls for an attorney general candidate to have at least 10 years of active practice of law.
Lawmakers, pointing to the case of former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, want to make the qualifications clearer.
Last 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 January.
Superior Court Judge Michael Sheldon had 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.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.