by Charles A. Monagan
Apr 3, 2012
11:20 AMOn Connecticut
Less is Less?
I almost drove my car off the road this morning when I heard this story (via Connecticut New Junkie) about how the Connecticut legislature's judiciary committee passed the so-called "Bysiewicz Bill," which will "clarify" (read "ease") the minimum qualification for those who want to run for the office of Connecticut's attorney general. The bill, now to be considered by the full legislature, will eliminate that "pesky" requirement of having the highest prosecutor for the state actually be involved in actually litigating cases for a minimum of ten years. Instead of a minimum of a decade of actively trying cases in a court of law, candidates will now only have to have be a member of the Connecticut Bar Association for a decade.
So what the legislators are saying is that rather than seeking more qualified candidates with practical courtroom experience supervising all the state's legal matters, advising the cadre of attorneys and prosecutors at the state's disposal, they instead want to open up the pool for this position to almost anyone who has passed the state bar exam.
Being married to an attorney, I have some notion of how the state's legal system works, and I can tell you that there's a world of difference between an attorney who has actively litigated in court for a decade and one who may be a working lawyer, but has never appeared in court or in front of a judge or jury (such as a real estate attorney).
The other problem with this easing of restrictions is that it also opens the door to anyone who has passed the bar but has spent the last decade working in another field. You know, like Susan Bysiewicz, who, during her failed bid for the attorney general's office, although having passed the bar admitted under oath (source: Channel 8) that she had never participated in a deposition, had never been in a courtroom as a lawyer trying a case and had never argued a case in front of a judge. Nothing against Ms. Bysiewicz, who was a good secretary of state and who may make an excellent U.S. senator, but having someone with no practical courtroom experience presiding over all of the state's legal issues just doesn't seem to be prudent.
I also find the whole idea of lowering qualifications particularly ironic in light of the Malloy administration's recent quest to reform education, which, as the governor has stated would include requiring teachers to have more certifications than they do now. Now agree or disagree with how it's being handled, but at least the idea of increasing job qualifications to help improve the status quo makes some sort of sense.
I know the education and legal systems are apples and oranges, but ask this: Would the governor appoint an education commissioner with no practical classroom experience ...