D.C. voters support election of AG

Jessica M. Karmasek Nov. 3, 2010, 10:59am


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- District of Columbia voters say its Home Rule Charter should be amended to allow the election of an attorney general.

According to early results, a majority of voters said they favored such a measure, The Washington Post reported.

Currently, the District's attorney general is appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the D.C. Council.

According to the Post, the law would go into effect after a congressional review period expected to expire in mid-January. Observers consider it unlikely that Congress would intervene.

Under the proposed law, the first elected attorney general would not serve until January 2015, the newspaper reported.

The attorney general's responsibilities include enforcing D.C. laws, prosecuting and defending on behalf of the District, and providing legal advice to city officials.

Those who supported the charter amendment say it is a long time coming, and it will better protect against attorneys general like Peter Nickles, whom many have described as unresponsive to citizen concerns.

The current D.C. attorney general announced in September he plans to resign this year. He announced his resignation following his boss' loss in the Democratic primary election for mayor.

Nickles said he would not work for D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, who defeated Mayor Adrian Fenty in the primary.

Fenty had nominated Nickles to the attorney general post in 2008 after Linda Singer resigned.

Gray, in June, called for the removal of Nickles, saying he betrayed the public's trust. He claimed Nickles "inappropriately politicized his role and facilitated the Mayor's cronyism."

In September, Nickles said he would stick around to make sure the transition to Gray's administration was smooth and benefits the city. Then, he said, he would announce his resignation effective at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, opponents of the charter amendment have said it could have a chilling effect on unpopular prosecutions and might deter qualified candidates.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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