AG: Why not remove ‘appearance of conflict?’

He’s powerless to do anything, it appears.

But wait a minute. That might be true for Jim Hood the person, but what about Jim Hood the state’s top legal officer?

If there is an appearance of a conflict with the attorney general, does the office of the attorney general just shut down? If Hood the person is too familial to prosecute, that shouldn’t prevent justice from being served on behalf of the citizens of this state.

Hood should be applauded for his honesty in admitting that he is too close to those involved to bring state charges. But that’s only half the duty. The other half is to remove the potential for a conflict and let justice be done by appointing an independent counsel. By choosing someone impartial to assess and bring, if applicable, state criminal charges, the state is represented, as it should be, and it also ensures that the local district attorney is supported.

For Hood to defer to the local DA, who could be subject to more political pressure than the AG, is a cop-out. But if Hood names outside counsel, he underscores his own integrity, and removes himself as a potential barrier to justice being served.

Hood isn’t powerless, after all. It’s totally in his hands how the state proceeds.

Clarion Ledger Editorial