A Hartford Superior Court judge said today she will have no immediate decision on Martha Dean’s effort to strike George Jepsen’s name from the ballot, virtually guaranteeing that the election of an attorney general will proceed unimpeded by the courts.
“There’s no way to have a hearing before Tuesday” on the substance of Dean’s claims, said David Golub, a lawyer for Jepsen. “So the voters will decide.”
Dean filed suit Tuesday, arguing that Jepsen does not meet the statutory requirements to be attorney general, as articulated in a recent Connecticut Supreme Court decision.
But lawyers for Jepsen, the Democratic nominee to succeed Richard Blumenthal as attorney general, and the secretary of the state’s office told Judge Julia Aurigemma during a hearing today that Dean, the Republican nominee, has no legal standing to bring her challenge.
And even if she did and the court found her complaint to have merit, the court has no authority to order Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz to remove anyone from the ballot, the lawyers said.
“She has no discretion whatsoever,” said Perry Zinn-Rowthorn, an assistant attorney general.
As the commissioner of elections, the secretary of the state’s responsibility is to ensure that candidates have been duly nominated, he said.
Golub noted that in 2006 a minor party nominated a disbarred attorney who received 17,000 votes.
In 2008, a voter sued Bysiewicz to force her to remove Barack Obama’s name from the ballot, arguing that the Democratic presidential nominee was not a U.S. citizen.
The Supreme Court ruled that Bysiewicz’s job was to ensure that Obama was properly nominated, not to explore whether he met the constitutional requirements of being a natural-born citizen who has attained the age of 35.
Golub said that Dean’s suit was “political theater,” and he predicted it will be dropped with Jepsen’s election Tuesday night.
“We shouldn’t be here,” Golub told the judge, calling the litigation “a last-second, Hail Mary case.”
Michael Taylor, who represents Dean, asked the judge to enjoin Bysiewicz from certifying the election results, giving time for the case to be considered by the trial and appellate courts.
If the case is considered disruptive to the election process, he said, “So be it.”
“The case is ultimately about Mr. Jepsen’s qualifications,” Taylor said.
Jepsen has been a lawyer for 26 years, but Dean is questioning if he meets the statutory requirement of 10 years active practice, which the Supreme Court recently said includes “some” litigation experience.
But the hearing today focused exclusively on Dean’s legal standing to bring the case.
Aurigemma said at the close of the hearing she would not rule today on a motion by Jepsen and the state to dismiss the case, nor would she guarantee a decision by Tuesday.