Martha Dean said the lawsuit she filed Tuesday against her Democratic opponent George Jepsen doesn’t qualify as an October surprise.
Dean, who came to the Capitol Wednesday morning, said the timing of her lawsuit, only one week before Election Day, was due to Friday’s Supreme Court decision which detailed why Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz was not qualified for the position of Attorney General.
Dean said her attorney’s plan to ask the court to issue a temporary injunction to take Jepsen’s name off the ballot, a move that could end up delaying the election for the position.
During a Capitol press conference, Dean said that her research found Jepsen’s name on only three briefs filed with the Connecticut Supreme Court and lawyers involved with those cases did not remember him as being involved with the proceedings.
“The Supreme court made clear that it’s not just 10 years of active legal practice or 10 years of being a lawyer that’s required. It needs to be 10 years of litigation experience where that work includes representing clients, representing them in court,” she said. “The court made clear that the attorney, to be eligible, needs to have tried some cases.”
Dean said her research into those cases has led her to question Jepsen’s role in the three Supreme Court cases his name appears on.
“It’s not clear that Mr. Jepsen even did research on these cases. Certainly the lawyers who were involved in these cases didn’t even know who he was. They had never seen him in court, did not see his name on any pleadings, and were completely unaware that he was involved or even existed.”
In an telephone interview Wednesday, Jepsen defended his legal experience and dismissed his opponent’s lawsuit as political grandstanding and a waste of state resources.
“By any reasonable assessment I have outstanding legal qualifications for the position,” he said.
“This is an act of political desperation. She knows she’s going to lose on Tuesday,” he said, adding that her demands that he produce the docket numbers for specific cases in which he was lead attorney were a red herring as the law does not require that.
“I have represented clients in courts in this state, from probate courts up to the Connecticut Supreme Court,” he said.
But Dean said it was important to sort out the questions before the election and, if need be, delay the Attorney General election until Jepsen’s qualifications can be confirmed.
“The court does have the ability to delay the Attorney General’s election in order to get to the bottom of this,” she said. “We’ve asked for a temporary injunction and part of that is asking them to take Mr. Jepsens name off the ballot if he’s deemed ineligible.”
But Jepsen said his opponent’s timing was political.
“This is a lawsuit she could have filed in January but she chose to wait. If she had filed it back then this would all be cleared up by now,” he said. “It’s so late in the ball game now that the Democratic Party couldn’t replace me if they wanted to.”
Jepsen said he doesn’t anticipate that the court will side with Dean but suggested that her willingness to force a special election was hypocritical.
“The fiscal conservative candidate is asking that the tax payers spend millions of dollars for a new election,” he said.
A hearing will be held at Superior Court on Thursday to determine whether or not the temporary injunction will be dismissed.