Saturday, June 17, 2006

Attorney General Hopefuls Blast Prison Defense Hiring

An election for Attorney General of Delaware looms on the horizon, and the candidates both appear to be fairly well qualified for the position. Long time Delaware Prosecutor Ferris Wharton, and bright younger hopeful Beau Biden both seem to be inspired choices from their parties to fill the role of chief administrative lawyer for the State.

I was happy to see an article in the Wilmington News Journal which asked both about a recent hiring by the State of Delaware of an Attorney to help the State in an investigation of Delaware's Prison system.

Both responded the way I hoped they would, in Top prosecutor hopefuls blast D.C. lawyer hire, with intelligent and reasonable arguments why outside counsel probably wasn't appropriate or necessary, especially at $425 an hour.

This is the campaign that I want to see from both sides - thoughtful, intelligent expressions and sharing of opinions on issues that matter.

It's not necessarily what we've been getting so far.

There's been some sniping from one side that the other candidate isn't experienced enough for the position, and it's the kind of dirty campaigning that I'm not sure they should really be proud of engaging in.

We see a "Paid for by the Republican State Committee of Delaware" at the bottom of a site titled Beau Biden for Delaware Attorney General ? Beau's Not Ready. I don't think that this kind of site is really necessary, nor does it make the Republican State Committee of Delaware look all that good.

One of the things that the "Beau's not ready" page does is question his qualifications on the basis of the fact that he could not hold the position of Family Court Judge (five years bar membership required), Arbitrator in Superior Court Civil Cases (five years bar membership required), or preceptor (mentor) to a law school graduate hoping to become a member of Delaware's Bar (ten years bar membership required).

I want to explore those "qualifications" briefly.

They are based upon length of time as a member of Delaware's Bar. So, a lawyer who becomes a member of Delaware's bar and handles only real estate settlement cases for ten years would be qualified for any of those positions under that definition of "qualifications." But, they just might not be qualified to be an administrator of a large law department prosecuting criminal cases, and civil disputes.

If a retiring Supreme Court Justice of the United States moved to Delaware, he or she also wouldn't be qualified to hold the position of Delaware's Attorney General according to the "Beau's not ready" page.

Those standards for Family Court Judge, Arbitrator, and Preceptor have different motivations behind them than the standards that are set for Attorney General of the State of Delaware. Under the requirements for Attorney General, the person running doesn't even have to be a lawyer. Yet, how unlikely would it be that a political party would put someone up for contention for that office who was so unqualified that they couldn't even make a race of it?

I'm happy to hear statements on the issues from both candidates. As for the determination that either candidate isn't ready for the position, maybe it's better for both parties to let the people voting make that determination on their own.

No comments: