Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz spent 10 hours over three days answering questions about her qualifications to be attorney general in a videotaped deposition, admitting she never has tried a case or appeared in court as a lawyer.
A video of the deposition was released Thursday. One of the key portions is an 8-minute exchange about her lack of experience in court.
“I’m a corporate lawyer, not a litigator,” said Bysiewicz, who is seeking a declaratory ruling in Superior Court that she meets the statutory requirement of having 10 years of “active practice at the bar” in Connecticut.
Her questioner is Eliot Gersten, a lawyer representing the Connecticut Republican Party. He has argued that the phrase “at the bar” means a litigator. Here is the clip, with a transcript.
Q Have you actually ever been in court yourself?
Q Okay. And when you’re at court, did you
stand at the counsel table?
A I’ve been to court to be sworn in to the New
York bar and the Connecticut bar and to observe
A And I’ve been to small claims court.
Q How did you enjoy that experience?
Q Did you represent yourself in small claims?
Q How many times have you been to small claims
A And I did win.
Q And when you observed proceedings in court,
as you’ve just mentioned, were you the one who stood up
in court and addressed the judge or the jury?
Q Were you sitting at the counsel table and
introduced to anyone as the lawyer for the case?
Q Did you sit in back of the bar of the court
or did you sit in front of the bar at counsel table?
A In the public portion of the courtroom.
Q And that would be the part that’s not at
counsel table, correct?
Q That would be the part in back of the bar,
Q And how many times did you come to court to
observe the proceedings in court and you sat in the
A Just a few.
Q Can you name the most recent?
A I believe in law school I went to an argument
at the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Q Okay. Any other occasions? And I don’t mean
to sound flippant, but I don’t think — that’s the most
recent one you can recall? That would be what,
somewhere 25 years ago, if my math is right?
Q Was that in your first year of law school?
A I can’t remember. Probably.
Q Well, it was in law school, right?
Q And you went to UConn law school?
A I did.
A For my first year.
Q So you don’t recall going to watch the
proceedings at the Connecticut Supreme Court while you
were at your Duke Law School, correct?
A It probably was when I was a first year.
Q So other than that occasion to watch what
takes place in court you have no more recent
recollection about what takes place in court, by
personal observation and being in the public section?
Q So you’ve never actually been introduced to a
judge or jury as the attorney — as an attorney at all,
A Can you repeat that question?
Q Sure. Have you ever been inside a courthouse
Q Okay. And have you ever been inside a
courthouse at any time and been introduced as an
attorney in the case?
A In a case pending before that court?
Q Yes, ma’am.
Q Have you ever been inside of a courthouse and
been introduced as an attorney outside of your
admittance to the bar?
Q Okay. And when was that?
A When I visit district courts to do
Q Okay. And when’s the last time that you
visited — that would be the district court of
Q And that would be the federal district
Q And in the federal district court, when was
the last time you participated in naturalization
ceremony where you were introduced as an attorney?
A Well, I was introduced as the secretary of
the state and I am an attorney, sir.
Q Okay. But when you were introduced as
secretary of state, does your introduction as secretary
of state include a title that says attorney?
Q So outside of the naturalizations, have you
been introduced as an attorney while you were standing
in a courthouse at any time in the past 26 years?
A With respect to a pending case in court, no.
Q Okay. And when you say with respect to a
pending case in court, how about with any case?
A I was just — I visit courthouses as a public
official and therefore I’m sure along the way someone
has said, this is attorney Bysiewicz.
Q Can you recall the most recent time that took place?
A Not a specific recollection.
Q Did it take place in any time you can recall
in the past six months?
Q In the past five years?
A I can’t remember.
Q Okay. And by the way, ma’am, is this the
first time — this is the first time you’ve been
deposed I think we said. Have you ever been a witness
in a case before?
Q Okay. Have you ever participated in a
preparation for a deposition before?
Q Have you ever participated in preparing
discovery or anything else like that before?
Q Okay. Have you ever even in your capacity as
secretary of state and your work with the attorney
generals as you mentioned have you ever been in a room
and you talk about here are things like the occupying
statement should sound like, have you ever been a prep
session for trial?
Q Have you ever been in a prep session about a
closing argument in a case when the attorney generals
are in the room?
Q Have you participated in any work with the
attorney generals in representing the secretary of
state’s office where you sat down and said, hey, we
have some witnesses we got to prepare and work towards
preparation of — trial preparation, have you done
A Preparation of witnesses?
Q Right. Have you ever sat in a room with the
attorney generals office and sat down and said, we’ve
got to —
Q Okay. Have you ever sat down with the
lawyers while they were representing the secretary of
state and said, here’s some ideas I have for a
pleading, can you put this into the brief or the
pleading or the motion or anything, have you done
Q And am I correct, ma’am, the secretary of
state doesn’t file appearances on behalf of the state
of Connecticut in any way, does it, in any court?