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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is interviewed in his office at the Capitol in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012.

Do we want the best lawyer or the best politician as the state's chief law enforcement officer? By appearances alone, Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow have become far too cozy with individuals under criminal investigation or in prison during their political campaigns. If running for attorney general puts pressure on candidates to pursue such questionable financial relationships, we either need more upright candidates with a clearer sense about conflicts of interest and the strength of character to resist this pressure, or we need a new approach for selecting them that insulates the office from raising donations for political campaigns.

The process for finding judges in Utah state courts offers a model that identifies candidates with superior qualifications for the office and allows for public accountability. A professionally experienced Judicial Nominating Commission recommends candidates to the governor who makes the appointment with the advice and consent of the State Senate. After taking office, the performance of every judge is reported to the voters who have the opportunity to reconfirm or terminate the service of any judge in an unopposed retention election every six years. Using a similar approach to find the Attorney General might remove the current shadow darkening the office.

Bill Anderson

South Salt Lake