Conn. committee passes AG qualifications bill

John O'Brien Apr. 4, 2012, 6:56am


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - A bill that would change the requirements for Connecticut Attorney General passed committee Monday.

In a 28-16 vote, the General Assembly Judiciary Committee passed the bill, which would require an attorney general candidate to have been a member of the Connecticut bar for 10 years. Current laws created confusion in the last election, leading to then-Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz's exit from the race.

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

In May 2010, 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 had served as secretary of state since 1998.

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

Bysiewicz's case wasn't the only 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.

In May, Connecticut's House of Representatives passed the same bill as this year's, but the Senate never voted on it.

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