WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- Paul Zukerberg, a Washington, D.C., attorney who specializes in defending marijuana possession cases, this week filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Council for delaying the District's attorney general election.

Zukerberg, who ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat on the District council, filed his suit in the District of Columbia Superior Court Monday to "secure the rights" of District voters to elect an attorney general in 2014.

According to Zukerberg's complaint, District voters "had grown tired of political corruption, bribery, theft, campaign fraud and bad government, and through the initiative process, determined that they wished to have an elected Attorney General, whose decisions could be judged at the ballot box, and whose voice would be independent of the Mayor and Council."

In July, members of the council voted to hold off on next year's scheduled election. The council voted 8-5 to delay the election until 2018.

The District's Democratic primary was set for April 2014.

Council members cited unresolved differences over the attorney general's role in deciding to hold off on the election.

Zukerberg argues that the council should've at least held a hearing before taking a vote.

"If the Council can cancel the election for Attorney General, they can cancel the election for mayor, or their own election, and we will be left with nothing but tyranny," Zukerberg said in a statement on his website.

"This suit is about respecting the will of the people, and the right of District voters to choose their own elected officials."

The lawsuit seeks to restore the election to the 2014 ballot.

"We are at a crucial phase in our long battle to secure representation in Congress for 640,000 D.C. citizens," Zukerberg said. "If our elected officials do not respect our right to vote, they have no credibility in demanding from Congress and the President full and equal voting rights for District residents."

In 2010, a majority of voters favored the District's Home Rule Charter be amended to allow the election of an attorney general.

Currently, the District's attorney general is appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council.

The Attorney General's Office was set to become fully independent of mayoral control in 2015.

But there was much disagreement over the elected attorney general's powers and responsibilities.

Mayor Vincent Gray and his appointed attorney general, Irvin Nathan, supported legislation -- which would've helped effectuate the change in the office -- that would've removed half of the lawyers from the elected attorney general's supervision and had them report directly to the mayor.

Others, including some council members, argued doing so would defeat the purpose of having an independent, elected attorney general.

On top of that, no one expressed interest in running for the office -- not even Nathan.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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