A Not So Radical Idea
By: Rosemarie Jackowski – Candidate for Vermont Attorney General
Should the Office of Vermont Attorney General be abolished? This is not a radical idea. The Vermont Constitution does not require an AG. No mention of such an Office is made in the Vermont Constitution. In fact, the Office has a history of being abolished. For more than 100 years from 1795 to 1904, Vermont had no AG. The office had been abolished.
The Criminal Division of the AG Office is an example of a duplication of services. Most criminal cases are prosecuted on the county level – not by the AG.
Essential services that are provided by the Office of AG, such as consumer protection, could be handled more efficiently by a small stand-alone agency.
The Civil Division of the AG Office should be eliminated. Citizens are at a disadvantage when the government has – by comparison to the average family – an almost unlimited amount of money and power to wage a legal battle. AG staff lawyers are on stand-by, ready to go up against any citizen who has a claim for damages against the State. A way must be found to level the legal playing field. Instead of an Office to oppose citizens – how about an Office of Citizen Advocacy. That IS a radical idea- government supporting citizens.
Citizens who are injured by State vehicles, citizens who have a highway proposed to run through their living rooms, and other citizens who suffer damages to themselves or their property need justice. Claims against the government should be settled in a fair and timely manner when possible. In cases where out of court settlements do not occur, Vermont law firms could be hired to represent the State. This would save taxpayer money, and might increase the possibility of fair settlements.
Who knows – maybe if enough money is saved by eliminating the office of AG, the State could get insurance on all of its vehicles. During the 1989-90 Legislative Session, all insurance on State vehicles was canceled by the legislature. Unintended consequences were soon to follow. Citizens injured by State vehicles since 1989 have found themselves in a Perfect Storm – injured, and up against a Goliath.
If a State truck ever hits a school bus filled with children, it will be a major disaster. The State has placed an arbitrary cap on settlements. Changes should be made before Vermont has a busload of injured children or other kind of catastrophe. People are served best when the government solves problems before they occur.
Where there is no justice, nothing else matters.
ROSEMARIE JACKOWSKI —– Candidate for Vermont Attorney General