The so-called “Bysiewicz bill” – a measure that would ease the legal qualifications for service as Connecticut attorney general, after Democrat Susan Bysiewicz was ruled ineligible for the office by the state Supreme Court in 2010 – made it to a legislative public hearing Monday, after failing to win passage in 2011.
On its second go-round before the General Assembly’s judiciary committee, the bill turned out to be pretty much the same one that state Senate took no action on last year after the House approved it 91-51 following heavy debate. The bill would set the requirement to be AG simply as 10 years’ admission to the Connecticut bar as a lawyer – which would be a change from the current, 115-year-old requirement that a person have at least 10 years of experience in the “active practice” of law in Connecticut.
The committee took no action. It has until April 2 to decide whether to approve the bill, which then would have to be voted on by the full Senate and House, and also be signed by the governor, before it could become law.
In the 2010 court case over Bysiewicz’s attempt to win the Democratic nomination for attorney general, the Supreme Court said that the vague requirement for 10 years’ “active practice” means ”at least some experience litigating cases in court.” Bysiewicz had been a lawyer more than 10 years but had never tried a case in court.
She argued that that she should be able to count at least some of her 12 years as secretary of the state (an office in charge of corporate registrations and state elections, for which one does not need to be an attorney) toward that 10-year “active practice” standard. A Superior court judge bought the argument, but not the high court.
Bysiewicz is now seeking the Democratic nomination for this year’s U.S. Senate nomination. Her Democratic rival in 2010, former state Senate Majority Leader George Jepsen, went on to win the election and now is state attorney general.