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Is This Form Is Unclear?

by Ryan McKeen

And the saga rolls on…

Part of what came up in court Wednesday about Bysiewicz’s professional forms already had been reported by The Courant in January — in a story in which Bysiewicz said she mistakenly signed forms for a partial exemption from a $110-a-year lawyers fee in 2006, 2007 and 2008. She underpaid by $55 in 2006 only and repaid it after The Courant’s story appeared. She said the forms were unclear. Jon Lender, The Hartford Courant

Here’s some of the relevant text of the form at issue:

If being an attorney is a factor in an individual’s employment, such attorney is deemed engaged in the practice of law as an occupation for purposes of this exemption and does NOT qualify for the partial exemption. For example, attorneys who are employed in positions such as state’s attorney, assistant attorney general, or public defender, do not qualify for the partial exemption because being an attorney is a factor in their employment. The partial exemption is also not applicable to judges, judge trial referees, state referees, family support magistrates, family support referees and workers compensation commissioners. An attorney engaged in the practice of law as an occupation outside of Connecticut may NOT claim the exemption.

Here’s a link to the form.

The Courant’s reports that Ms. Bysiewicz only underpaid the fee in 2006 despite filling out the form in 2006, 2007, and 2008. This is strange. The only reason to fill out the form is to claim the exemption.  For example, I practice law. I’ve never filled out that form. I simply pay the $110. If a lawyer is not seeking the exemption, there’s no need to fill out the form.

While I disagree that the form is unclear, the fact that she only underpaid in 2006 gives credence to Ms. Bysiewicz’s testimony that she mistakenly filled out the forms.  There’s really no other explanation as to why the forms were filled out.

Just an odd footnote to an interesting case.