D.C. City Council approves AG election measure

John O'Brien Jan. 5, 2010, 3:14pm


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Voters in the District of Columbia are one step closer to electing their attorneys general after a Tuesday vote by the D.C. City Council.

The Council unanimously voted in favor of a measure that would end the appointment process, The Washington Post reported. Currently, the city's attorneys general are nominated by the mayor.

Current Attorney General Peter Nickles took over on an interim basis in 2007 and was nominated to the permanent job by Mayor Adrian Fenty. He formerly served as Fenty's general counsel.

Seven states do not have a popular election process for their attorney general position. Governors nominate attorneys general in New Hampshire, New Jersey, Alaska and Hawaii, while the Governor in Wyoming appoints the attorney general.

In Tennessee, the justices of the state Supreme Court appoint the attorney general. In Maine, the state Legislature elects the attorney general.

The D.C. City Council's decision must be reaffirmed with a second vote, and Congress would have to change the city's Home Rule charter, the report says.

"The attorney general should not be the attorney for the mayor, the mayor already has an attorney, it's called counselor to the mayor," Council member Mary M. Cheh said in the report.

"This will make it plain, which is already in the law but has not been followed in recent years, that the attorney general represents us, represents the people of the District of Columbia."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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