Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Judge Gives Bysiewicz The Green Light

Superior Court Judge Michael Sheldon has taken the monkey off Secretary State Susan Bysiewicz’ back.

In a 93-page ruling, the judge found:

“On the basis of the foregoing findings of fact and conclusions of law, the Court hereby finds, and thus enters judgment in this action to declare, that the plaintiff, as a Connecticut attorney-at-law since 1986 who performed the above-described duties of her office as Connecticut's Secretary of the State since 1999, has engaged in active practice at the bar of this state, within the meaning of General Statutes § 3-124, for at least ten years."
Given the finding he made, judge Sheldon ruled it was not necessary to address the constitutionality of the statute requiring 10 years active service as a lawyer as a prerequisite for office of attorney general. The state constitution lists only an age requirement to attain the office, which would seem to conflict with the statute requiring 10 years active service as a lawyer.

As a default position, Bysiewicz claimed in court that the provision requiring 10 year’s active service was unconstitutional.

"So finding and declaring,” Shelton wrote in his decision, “the Court has no occasion to reach and decide the plaintiff's alternative challenge to the constitutionality of (the constitutional provision).”

Ahead of Bysiewicz are dozens of UTube videos demonstrating her lack of experience culled from a damaging deposition that was filmed for posterity. Given her true grit, few among the delegates to the Democratic nominating convention will doubt she will be able to overcome such mini-spectacles.


Fuzzy Dunlop said...

In Connecticut, courts have a mandate to avoid questions of constitutional where possible. The decision is very thoughtful and a credit to Sheldon I think. Although I don't support Susan, I've come around to agreeing that she is likely qualified under the statute.

It will be interesting to see how the Republicans play this. There is a statutory time limit in which parties may appeal trial court decisions. For Chris Healy, the smart play is to wait for as long as possible before filing. The longer this whole thing is drawn out, the better for the Republicans.

Don Pesci said...

I don’t disagree with what happened. My own opinion, for what it’s worth, is that the statute was questionable, and I was gratified when it was questioned by Bysiewicz’s lawyer. I agree with the legal principle the judge followed in his decision. It shelves the constitutional question for another day and leaves the rhetoric surrounding the office untouched -- that only lawyers with 10 years experience need apply. The attorney general is largely an administrative post, most of the litigation being done by a half dozen lawyers. We are left to suppose that the remaining attorneys in his office, more than 100, are having coffee while these few fill the potholes. The parallel on the necessity of experience may be drawn with Supreme Court justices, several of whom had little litigatory experience. Would a law professor with little or no experience in prosecuting cases be a fit attorney general? I think so. It’s a pity this question wasn’t answered by the deciding judge.

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