Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Bysiewitz Deposed

The election for attorney general has become, to put it politely, a mess.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal – afflicted with the bizarre notion that suits against Connecticut businesses actually increase business in the state by providing a level playing field – had decided, after twenty years of enhancing business activity in the state, to move on to greener pastures in the U.S. Congress.

Blumenthal’s abrupt exit gave everyone in Connecticut a view of how term limits would enhance politics in the state. U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd decided – some think after polls showed him tanking badly – to retire, and Blumenthal laid claim to Dodd’s his seat, after which Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz announced she had second thoughts about running for governor and made a pitch for Blumenthal’s seat. Her seat was left open, and the political musical chairs continues; the incumbency ice flow breaks; spring is here at long last

Almost immediately, Bysiewicz ran into a brick wall. Questions were raised concerning her qualifications for attorney general, an issue now in the process of being decided by Connecticut’s Supreme Court. The proceedings, a five hour interrogation of Bysiewicz, were videotaped, and the air is now cluttered with Freedom of Information demands to make the proceedings public, which may not help Bysiewicz’s long term political strategy. Rumor has it that Bysiewicz intends to bide her time as attorney general and run against Sen. Joe Lieberman when he come up for a flogging at the end of his term. Asked if she intended to surrender her seat as attorney general to follow Blumenthal’s path to the U.S Senate when Lieberman came up for re-election, Bysiewicz’s answer to the question was dodgy.

It all sounds very much like a Greek tragedy, with Zeus bawling from his throne, a scheming Hera entangling everyone in complex subplots, and a few hapless human guards patrolling the walls of Troy wondering at the ominous cloud, now no bigger than a hand, gathering on the horizon.

The Bysiewitz deposition took five grueling hours on the first day; she returned on the second day for more barbed interrogatories, poor thing.

Citing “lawyers closely watching the case,” The Connecticut Law Tribune reported:

“Her deposition in the politically drench proceeding is apparently going very badly… In mid-stream, her lawyers on Monday sought to have a judge impose a protective order forbidding the public release of the deposition video or transcript… She has reportedly been forced to admit that she had never authored a legal brief…Furthermore, according to second-hand reports from lawyers connected to the case, she acknowledged she had never participated in a legal strategy session for a case. The sources said Bysiewicz was asked under oath to list the times she had officially appeared in a courtroom. Her answers were minimal -- in law school, when being sworn in to the bar, and when representing herself in a small claims action.”

Byseiwitz’s default position is to argue that the state statute prescribing ten years of active legal experience as a requirement for the attorney general position is in conflict with the state constitution, which lists only age as a requirement, and here she appears to be on solid constitutional ground. In any conflict between the constitution and a statutory regulation, a court could only embarrass itself by ruling the constitution unconstitutional. And if the constitution cannot be unconstitutional, the statute must be unconstitutional.

The politically astute Blumenthal answered a demand that he release transcripts of the deposition video in his custody under a Freedom of Information request by pointing to a possible gag order from the presiding judge. Bysiewicz, after consulting the relevant laws on the matter, consented to the release of the transcripts, which Blumenthal will copy and disperse on Wednesday.

While Bysiewicz appears to have taken a nose dive in the media, her polling positives remain respectable, perhaps an indication that a majority of folk in Connecticut have come of age at a time when much of the media has lost its vigor.
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