Monday, November 1, 2010

Really, really Artur for AG

I made the mistake of watching t.v. in bed last night.  (How I Met Your Mother is on at all hours these days, so even though I have the series on DVD, I can't turn off the t.v. if a good episode is on.)  As a result, I saw commercial after commercial in the Kansas Attorney General race.  Now, as I've already told you, I have no intention of voting for either of these smarmy politicians.  But if I hadn't already been decided on Artur for A.G., I'm fairly certain last night's commercials would have persuaded me not to vote for either of them.

This election seems to be all about which of the two of them is the real prosecutor, the guy who has been a personal injury lawyer and judge or the guy who has been in the state senate for 10 years. 

Steve Six (trial lawyer/judge) says he is the real prosecutor because he has prosecuted two (2!) trials himself, both of which will he was AG.  I wasn't in the courtroom for either of those trials, but I have been told by those who were that his inexperience at trying criminal cases showed.  There have also been rumors that he has actively sought out cases he could take over from county attorney's offices so that he could get more experience prior to election season. 

Then there's Derek Schmidt (Senator) who insists he is the real prosecutor because he has personally prosecuted over fifty (50!) violent criminals (Domestic batterers!  Those who assault law enforcement officers!) himself just this very year.  Ooh, that sounds impressive.  Except his prosecutorial experience comes as a small town city prosecutor where he practices entirely in municipal court.  That's not even "real" court.  He's probably handling 3 or 4 "trials" in one evening session and who knows how many of those even involve opposing counsel.  The folks facing battery and assault charges in municipal court aren't exactly the sort of violent criminals his commercial might lead voters to believe.  Violent felonies aren't tried in municipal court.

So I don't think either of them are really all that great on prosecutorial experience.  But my bigger question is, so what?  Does the Attorney General himself really need to be in the courtroom, trying felonies?  Or should he perhaps leave that to the experienced prosecutors on his staff so he can do his actual job of administering the entire agency?  I personally opt for choice 2.  I don't expect my Attorney General to spend his time in a courtroom, focusing only on criminal cases.  The AG's office does not just handle criminal prosecutions, but also oversees consumer protection and all sorts of civil matters.  It is essentially the state's law firm.  The AG's office would actually  represent me were I to be sued.  The Attorney General's office handles a wide variety of legal matters and only steps in to criminal cases when individual counties ask for assistance or have a conflict.  The AG should be a lawyer well-versed in many areas of law so he can oversee the entire office, but should fill each department with attorneys who specialize in that area of law.  So, no, I don't expect the actual Attorney General to prosecute cases personally; I expect him to set policy and supervise the people who actually prosecute.  Evidently, though, I'm in the minority because prosecuting big, bad scary violent criminals is all these two want to talk about.  No wonder I don't want to vote for either of them: they don't even understand the job they're running for.

Fortunately, this will all be over tomorrow and I can go back to being sold sneakers and soda and fast food while I watch my late night sitcoms.  And maybe over the next 4 years I can at least get some entertainment value out of watching Mr. "I prosecute violent criminals in municipal court" take over a capital murder case in big kid court.

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