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Kelly hits Hatch on his home turf

Republican attorney general candidate Tom Kelly brought the campaign to Duluth, attacking DFL incumbent Mike Hatch on his home turf Wednesday. Kelly charged Hatch with using the office of attorney general to reward "his trial lawyer buddies" and ...

Republican attorney general candidate Tom Kelly brought the campaign to Duluth, attacking DFL incumbent Mike Hatch on his home turf Wednesday.

Kelly charged Hatch with using the office of attorney general to reward "his trial lawyer buddies" and challenged the incumbent to a series of three debates.

"By shamelessly using the courts to generate publicity for himself, Mike Hatch has become part of the problem, not part of the solution," Kelly said. "The attorney general should be fighting to make the legal system work better for Minnesotans, not exploiting it."

Kelly said people have lost faith in the legal system. He said 60 percent believe the system is not easy to use, 72 percent believe that cases take too long to resolve and 81 percent believe the average person cannot afford to take a case through the system.

"The costs of the problems of our legal system extend to every sector of society," he said. As examples, he cited the rising costs doctors face in malpractice insurance and how liability insurance costs are driving up the price of new homes.

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Kelly said that as attorney general, he would take the lead in reforming the legal system so it works as well for the public as it does for lawyers.

The candidate said he would institute a limited "loser pays" rule for legal fees to deter frivolous claims and establish time limits for all but the largest court cases.

Kelly would prohibit the attorney general's office from retaining contingency fee lawyers without the specific consent of the Legislature. He would also take a look at how treaty law is affecting the use of natural resources.

Kelly said he and Hatch owe voters the opportunity to compare their different visions for the office in debates.

This is Kelly's first run for office. The Medina resident has been an attorney in private practice since 1984.

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