After 2010 furor over AG qualifications, a hearing on change is tame

The qualifications required to serve as state attorney general drew much attention during Susan Bysiewicz’s star-crossed bid for the office last year, but just one person testified Tueday about a proposal to relax the standard.

And it wasn’t Bysiewicz, who saw the Connecticut Supreme Court rule her ineligible to become attorney general just days before the she hoped to capture the Democratic nomination because she did not have 10 years of “active practice” litigation experience.

Instead, Francis J. Brady, the past president of the Connecticut Bar Association, told legislators on the Judiciary Committee that the requirement should be changed to 10 years of bar membership, without reference to practicing law. He noted that Joseph Lieberman, who served for many years as attorney general before being elected to the U.S. Senate, might not have qualified had the issue been raised during his tenure.

But Rep. Arthur O’Neil, R-Southbury, who sought the Republican nomination for attorney general last election, said he had concerns about the change.

“If this [office] is to mean anything, shouldn’t there be some requirement?” he said, questioning how much weight a requirement that someone pass the bar 10 years ago and pay the fee to register as a lawyer would have. “Should we even bother to have a requirement?”

Brady said whatever the change is, the current law is not working.

“I think 2010 … caused some destruction,” he said. “Let the voters decide who is qualified for office.”