Martha Dean: Why Not Show Voters You’re Eligible?
I am sharing this with you as presented by Martha Dean.
Friday, October 29th, 2010
Hartford Courant, Letter to the Editor – Martha Dean October 31, 2010
The Democratic candidate for Attorney General, George Jepsen, has claimed publicly for months: “I am not a litigator,” “I am not a litigator by training or nature,” and “I do not have a litigation background.” These statements are on video and transcripts.
Last Friday’s Supreme Court ruling in the Bysiewicz case now makes clear that to be eligible for AG a lawyer must have no less than ten years of experience actively litigating in court and trying cases and that this must have been the lawyer’s primary means of earning a living.
Now, after the Court’s decision, Mr. Jepsen suddenly claims he is a litigator. What are the voters supposed to believe? Why won’t Jepsen provide the names, docket numbers, etc. of cases that he personally litigated or tried? Couldn’t his prompt disclosure have averted a lawsuit to force him to show he’s eligible?
Connecticut needs an attorney general who is a zealous and effective advocate in court. The voters have a right to know that the candidates on the ballot in the AG’s race are eligible to serve. If Jepsen must be disqualified later, an AG would be appointed by the Governor. The voters deserve the right to choose.
Connecticut Law Tribune, Op/Ed – Martha Dean November 2, 2010
Most of you already know that I am a skilled and experienced attorney who is not beholden to partisan politics or special interests. I have not run negative campaign ads, I declined to take ¾ of a million dollars of taxpayer money for my campaign, and I view litigation as a tool of last resort. So you must be wondering why I sued my opponent this week over eligibility.
You wonder, if Jepsen is unqualified shouldn’t I have raised this earlier? I agree that I should raise such critical issues as early as possible, and I did that. Let me explain. On a personal level I believe an attorney general candidate should be experienced litigating for obvious reasons: the job of the attorney general is to advocate for the State’s interests in court, hire and fire, train and manage 200 litigating attorneys, and be the final decision- maker on whether a case has merit or is frivolous. But my personal belief is not a legal standard; how the candidates stacked up was simply an issue for the voters.
Last Friday, however, the Connecticut Supreme Court issued its written decision in the Bysiewicz case. Unlike the oral ruling in this case, the written decision explains in detail the eligibility criteria for attorney general. The Court makes clear that 10 years of active practice at the bar does not mean 10 years of being a lawyer. Clearly Ms. Bysiewicz and Mr. Jepsen have been lawyers for more than ten years. The Court held that “active practice at the bar” means 10 years of active legal practice that includes actually litigating cases on behalf of clients in court as the principal means of earning a living and some experience trying cases before a judge or jury, as well as having the practical ability, through admissions to the various courts, to appear in the courts in which Connecticut has legal business.
Mr. Jepsen has stated for months in debates, in editorial board interviews, and elsewhere: “I am not a litigator,” “I do not have a litigation background,” and “I am not a litigator by training or nature.” So, it seemed critical to ask Mr. Jepsen at the first opportunity after last Friday’s decision whether he has the requisite experience. I did this early on the Monday morning after the Friday court decision. Mr. Jepsen did not provide information supporting his eligibility that would pass even a straight-face test ( he said on a few occasions he has been to small claims court, probate court, etc. and his name appears ‘on the brief’ on three Supreme Court cases). Mr. Jepsen provided no names of cases, docket numbers, years litigated, names of associated courts, etc. Mr. Jepsen confirmed that he is not admitted to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals or to the U.S. Supreme Court. This can be corrected, but it is evidence that he has not practiced in the federal appeals courts. In fact, Mr. Jepsen only filed his papers for admission to the lower federal court last year – 25 years into his career. Despite this, we cannot locate any case in federal court that he has handled. It was only because Mr. Jepsen did not provide evidence that he is eligible, and has stated repeatedly that he is not a litigator, that it was necessary to file suit.
Why was it necessary to sue before the election? If Mr. Jepsen’s eligibility were raised after the election (if Jepsen won), the new Governor would appoint the attorney general and the voters would be denied the right to choose. This outcome would also deny me (if I were to lose) the opportunity to be selected by the voters at the ballot box while matched up against a fellow litigating-lawyer, who would presumably have less name recognition than a career politician.
The voters of Connecticut deserve to have this issue resolved before the election so they know that they are choosing between candidates who have the many years of litigating experience that the Supreme Court says is necessary to effectively and zealously advocate for Connecticut’s interests.
I appreciate your support and your vote. For more information on my candidacy, please visit my website: deanag2010.com.