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Friday, April 15, 2011

Connecticut's new Bysiewicz AG Standard

On Thursday I watched with amazement as the Connecticut General Assembly Judiciary Committee made yet another gaff in it's two-week long war on Connecticut residents.  It was astonishing to witness members pass SB6342 favorably out of committee in a 29-15 vote.  For those who don't know, SB6342 is affectionately referred to by most as the "Bysiewicz Bill" otherwise known in the official record as AN ACT CONCERNING THE QUALIFICATIONS FOR CANDIDATES SEEKING ELECTION TO THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.

Under the new AG standard, even - say,
Susan Bysiewicz would be qualified.
And that's pretty scary
The bill is highly controversial because it dumbs-down the qualifications for those seeking the office of Attorney General here in Connecticut to the point where just about any book-smart test-taker who's current with their Connecticut Bar fee can now run.  As you'll recall, in the last election cycle - Susan Bysiewicz, was deemed unqualified to run for AG by the Connecticut Supreme Court because she hadn't actively practiced law for 10 years in Connecticut which was one of main requirements within the statute for those individuals seeking the AG office.

Now, to most normal people, one would think that the person who would serve as Connecticut's highest ranking attorney, representing Connecticut in lawsuits on the national stage, and who would be involved in litigation on important legal matters would at least have 10 years of active practice as an attorney.  Apparently the geniuses in the Judiciary Committee believe that having experience practicing law actively as an attorney is no longer a mandatory attribute for the suitor, since our representatives have decided it's far more important to place politics over merit by taking the first step toward making sure future candidates need only be card carrying members of the Connecticut Bar (not necessarily active) and reside in the nutmeg state for at least 10 years. (and as as a side note it was disclosed that the Connecticut Bar actually drafted the Bill's language). Let's face it - the Committee thinks the AG role is nothing more than a big-time management position disconnected from the work of its office.  Just another polico swiveling in their leather back chair up in Hartford.

It's hard to image why our Representatives would make such a shortsighted move.  What's even more remarkable is that people like Republican State Senator John Kissel (S-07) also voted in favor of this lunacy.  Sadly, I watched him stumble through his unintelligible remarks which hardly seemed to support his decision.  His whining about having reservations about SB6342 didn't seem to get in the way of his casting a Yea vote.   Looking timid and foolish, Kissel mumbled into the microphone that lessening the standard would offer the opportunity for a larger pool of candidates from which voters would have to choose from - yeah dumb, dumb - unqualified candidates like Susan Bysiewicz. I wondered to myself - is this the same John Kissel who voted against Marijuana decriminalization and abolishing the death penalty?  You could see disgust in the eyes of a few of his colleagues who had the foresight to vote No including Republican John Hetherington (H-125), and Democrat Arthur O'Neill (H-069) - who switched his vote at the last minute recognizing the negative impact of passing such a watered-down standard - that's if any standard exists in this bill at all.

Has Rep. John Kissel lost his mind?
Where is the sensible guy from last week?
What Representative Kissel and his friends have done in effect is reduce the Connecticut Attorney General's post to just another political position.  Now any fool who took the bar exam and has lived in Connecticut for 10 years can climb the political ladder and seek to become the next CT AG.

As Deputy Republican Leader Themis Klarides (H-114) pointed out [paraphrasing]: we all know people people who go to law school, pass the bar, then spend most of their lives working in other general legal capacities or who don't even practice law would now be qualified for AG. And she's right - like those who engage in non-profit work, or in some other paper-pushing corporate setting - wholly disconnected from actual litigation or providing legal opinions, or worse - those who spend a lifetime in politics growing their name recognition for a chance to run for higher office.  Sooner rather than later under this new criteria, that AG race is going to amount to being nothing more than another political popularity contest.  And you know what's worse than that - after she gets crushed by Chris Murphy in the Democrat Senatorial Primary, we could once again see that dumb-as-a-rock Susan Bysiewicz make another run for AG now that the bar has been lowered so even she could step over it.

If our General Assembly really had an interest in establishing the highest qualifications for the Connecticut Attorney General's position - do you know what they would do?  They would get out of their dusty chambers and take the time to go visit some of Connecticut's best law firms and ask partners what standards and qualifications they use to hire their attorneys.  I bet the bar just might be a tad bit higher than the new Bysiewicz standard that our state politicians find so appealing.

I really hope people are keeping track of each and every vote taken by those on both sides of the aisle.  Sometimes I think the effort to win a Republican majority in the Statehouse is an attainable goal, but it doesn't help when our own members make just as many asinine decisions as those on the other side.  With Connecticut taking a hard left turn, the prospect of a merit-less left-wing activist sitting in the AG's office, publishing legal opinions is hardly appealing. You think about that.
This original blog entry can be found at

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