Attorney General's Office Gazette: June 2013

Attorney General's Office Gazette

June 13

 

OAG Dive in the Pool

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Andrew Fois, Deputy Attorney General heading our Public Safety Division, joined other D.C. officials on May 24 at the Harry Thomas Sr. Pool to open the D.C. Parks and Recreation Department's summer season.

Major OAG Cases to be Featured on Website

The new OAG website, which launched in March, soon will be updated with recent major cases from our Public Interest Division (PID) and a new page featuring  our Civil Litigation Division (CLD).

On May 15, PID persuaded U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg that a request for a preliminary injunction against the District of Columbia Public Schools should be denied. The ruling allowed the school system to continue implementing its consolidation plan for 2013-2014. The suit was brought by parents of children whose schools are scheduled for closure. 

Other cases described on the PID page include Badgett, et al v. D.C., in which a federal judge dismissed a complaint by 34 former D.C. Parks and Recreation Department employees who challenged the elimination of their positions; Barnes et al v. D.C., a defense jury verdict in a lawsuit by D.C. Jail prisoners claiming "overdetention"--being held past their proper release date--and Jack's Canoes and Kayaks v. National Park Service et al., in which a federal judge dismissed a complaint against the District over a lease dispute at Georgetown Waterfront Park.

The new CLD page will feature these cases: Motley v. D.C., et al., a jury verdict in favor of the Metropolitan Police Department in a gender-discrimination case; Adams v. D.C., another jury verdict in favor of the Metropolitan Police Department, this time in a retaliation case; Ruffin v. D.C., a jury verdict for the District in a false-arrest case; Standley v. D.C., and Jackson v. D.C., both jury verdicts for D.C. in civil-rights cases; and Carmen Jean-Baptiste vs. D.C., which a judge reduced a $3.5 million jury award to $350,000 in a sexual-harassment case.

OAG Employees of the Month

Alice Stevens, Assistant Attorney General in the Child Protection Section II of the family Services Divison, was named OAG Employee of the Month for March. Colleagues gave Alice many accolades, including that she is “a great coworker and a team player and that “she is always willing to help a coworker by sharing her knowledge and assisting in research for a difficult issue.” Another colleague cited her “high degree of professionalism, kindness, diligence, sense of humor, and general support of others." 

For the month of May 2013 (there was no winner in April), the honor went to Anthony Rembert, an investigator in the Investigations Section of the Support Services Division.

A colleague said that, "Mr. Rembert always goes above and beyond what is asked of him, and whenever he is assigned a case, we can rest assured that he will do a thorough and competent job. Just recently, Inv. Rembert was assigned one of my cases where the respondent was particularly dodgy and difficult to track down. Inv. Rembert was able to identify that the address provided was fake, found the correct address, interviewed the occupants of the house and after interviewing various people, was able to track down the respondent in the neighborhood and personally serve him.”

Congratulations to both of our recent winners. 

New and Departed OAG Employees

New employees since last issue of AGOG

Michelle Alstron, SSD; Kimberly D. Berry, PSD; Jerome Bizzell, CSSD; Catrina Cleckley, DCPS; Simone Manigo-Truell Dos Santos, OGC/DISB; Andrew Eberle, Commercial; James Gilmore, PSD/Juvenile; Jacqueline Henderson, FSD; Dana E. Hill, CLD; Eugene Howard, SSD; Donald Jeffries, SSD; Taylor Long, SSD/Operations; Marc Nielsen, DDOE; Jinho Park, DISB; Paula Peters, Commercial; Richard Rodriguez, PID;  Sharde Royster, SSD; Hanim Samara, PSD/Juvenile; Stephanie Schmelz, DISB; Klavan Taylor, DDOE; Kristin Josey Ward, DDOE; Darrel Wesley, SSD; Frederick Williams, SSD

Departed employees

Doris Donatien, CD; Andrea Grossman, DDOE; Viktor Pregel, CD; Esther Yong, CLD;  Lolita Yourmans, PLED

 

Two Classes of Ruff Fellows

OAG welcomed its second class of Ruff Fellows in January and February. These recent graduates of Georgetown and George Washington University law schools are working in nine OAG divisions or offices. This summer, they will be joined by two graduates of the University of the District of Columbia law school.

The first class of Ruff fellows included 11 recent graduates of the three schools. Remarkably, 10 of them are now working in permanent OAG positions, and one will clerk for a D.C. Superior Court judge. Assistant Deputy Attorney General Sally Gere, who supervises the program,said, "OAG could not have been more pleased with our first class of Ruff Fellows. They contributed significantly to the successes of the Office and demonstrated a deep commitment to public service. OAG’s confidence in the Fellows is underscored by the significant number that were given offers of permanent employment. We thank our law school partners in the Ruff Fellows program, George Washington, Georgetown and UDC."

We asked last year's class to give us an update on what they are doing now and one or two highlights of their fellowship year.

Matthew Blecher (Georgetown): I am a trial attorney in the Equity Section of the Public Interest Division, the same assignment that I had as a Ruff Fellow and a pro bono attorney prior to that. As a Ruff Fellow, I was assigned to a wide variety of civil actions across the spectrum of federal and District law, ranging from individual to class action complaints and from singular to system-wide challenges. In addition to working under Equity’s outstanding trial attorneys on a variety of matters, I handled a modest sampling of cases on my own, including a copyright infringement claim against the Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board, a challenge to the District’s firearm and ammunition laws arising under the Second, Fourth, and Fifth amendments, and a lawsuit by the Fraternal Order of Police seeking the appointment of a board that would establish vocational standards for Metropolitan Police Department officers. All of those cases were ultimately dismissed by way of dispositive motion. I recently succeeded in defending the District in Jack’s Canoes & Kayaks, LLC v. National Park Service, et al., a federal civil action before Judge Kollar-Kotelly seeking to reverse a grant of administrative jurisdiction from the District to the federal government that brought the Georgetown Waterfront within the greater National Park System of the United States nearly two decades ago.

Jeffrey Cargill (Georgetown): As a Ruff Fellow, I was immediately trained and introduced to the D.C. criminal-justice system. As a Ruff Fellow with the OAG Criminal division, I almost immediately got my own caseload, motions, and trials. In the year I was a Fellow, I did well over 20 trials by myself. I also argued a case in front of a jury.

After my fellowship, I was accepted as a full-time prosecutor with the same OAG Criminal Public Safety Division, where I work today, doing virtually all of the tasks I was assigned as a Ruff Fellow.

Andrew Costinett (Georgetown): I worked on last summer’s summary judgment briefing in the Expedia case (the hotel tax litigation), which resulted in summary judgment in the District’s favor on the issue of liability. I also worked on all aspects of OAG’s investigation of Forrester Construction Company, which is resulting in settlement and payment to the District.  This project timed perfectly with my Ruff Fellowship, as I was involved from the onset of our investigation.

I am still within the Public Advocacy Section, with my primary focus being nonresident tuition cases on behalf of DCPS and OSSE. 

Kate DeLeon (George Washington): My current assignment is Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Section of the Public Safety Division, the same assignment I had as a Ruff Fellow. One highlight from my Ruff Fellow year was having the opportunity to work on DC v. Antoinette Bolz et al. with former AAG Sean Farrelly.  This was the Occupy DC case, featured here: http://oag.dc.gov/release/dc-attorney-general-office-secures-convictions-occupy-dc-mcpherson-square-cases. Another highlight was winning my first trial, a Speed Over 30 case, in May 2012, just two months after I started as a Ruff Fellow.

Jessica Gray (UDC David A. Clarke School of Law): I worked in the Mental Health section of OAG during my fellowship. As a fellow, I litigated more than 20 hearings before the Commission on Mental Health, approximately seven probable cause hearings at Superior Court, and two bench trials. I am extremely grateful for the experience because I gained a great deal of knowledge in a short period of time and it made for a seamless.transition into my current position in the General Counsel's Office at the Department on Disability Services.

Chanel T. Griffith (George Washington): I was close to breaking the office record for one of the longest days in the juvenile arraignment court. I was there from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and conducted about10 probable cause hearings. I obtained PC on every case! While I was tired, I felt accomplished. It was great experience, taught me to think on my feet. In another matter, a judge called my supervisor with a compliment on my performance in a motions hearing. She complimented my writing, arguments, and preparedness.

Brant Martin (Georgetown): While a Ruff Fellow in Section IV of the Civil Litigation Division, I managed a caseload involving constitutional, tort, and employment claims.  I regularly appeared in court, and conducted and defended a number of depositions. Highlights include working with two colleagues and our supervisor to complete a large-scale dispositive motion and reply brief in a seven-year-old lawsuit involving twenty-four constitutional, statutory, and tort claims. The task involved organizing and learning the case’s entire record, including thousands of pages of materials and twenty-three depositions, learning the law regarding each claim, and drafting the motion. We are waiting on a ruling from the Court. Another highlight involved winning the first case I defended on my own from filing through the entire discovery process.  The case involved defamation claims against two Department of Insurance Securities and Banking regulators, and, after completing the discovery process, I won the case by summary judgment motion.

I have continued on as an attorney in the Civil Litigation Division Section IV.  My co-counsel, Kerslyn Featherstone, and I just won my first trial with the office, a medical malpractice case regarding the FEMS response to a double shooting.  After a week of trial and the close of Plaintiff’s case, the Court granted us judgment on the law pursuant to our Rule 50 motion.

Margaret P. Radabaugh (George Washington) is a trial attorney in the Personnel and Labor Relations Section, where she was also a Ruff Fellow. She represents District agencies in administrative matters before the Office of Employee Appeals, Office of Hearings and Adjudication/DOES, Office of Administrative Hearings, Office of Human Rights, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Metropolitan Police Department Adverse Action Panels, and Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department Fire Trial Boards. In addition, she handles appellate representation of matters before the OEA Board, the Compensation Review Board, various FMCS arbitrators, PERB, and Superior Court. Her duties include all aspects of civil litigation, i.e., discovery, motions practice, brief writing, and evidentiary hearings. She especially enjoys the hands-on trial experience and the time she spent co-authoring an amicus brief for Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan on behalf of the Mayor.

Bradley Sarnell (Georgetown): I argued three cases before the D.C. Court of Appeals on behalf of the District, the District’s Board of Psychology, and the District’s Office of Tax and Revenue. I obtained judgments in favor of the District in 13 cases, including a decision holding the District not liable under the “emergency run” doctrine. I am now interning in the General Counsel’s Office of the District of Columbia Public Schools, and will clerk for a D.C. Superior Court judge.

Todd C. Smith (George Washington): Todd remains in the Civil Litigation Division. As a Ruff Fellow, he won his first federal case in August. The suit sought an injunction against the District, suggesting we were responsible for putting a minor in a position to suffer medical neglect. It alleged a variety of causes of action, including substantive due process. He got it dismissed for lack of standing, as the birth mother was trying to sue as next friend of the child, while the father, who had sole legal and physical custody, didn’t want to press the suit.

He also worked on a major Fourth Amendment case all the way up to favorable settlement on the eve of trial. It stemmed from an ERT search that was incident to a drive-by murder, perpetrated with an assault rifle.  Plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU and a major law firm, alleged our warrants were defective.  It involved the deposition of dozens of witnesses, and dealt with three or four different agencies.

Joshua Turner (George Washington):

The Legal Counsel Division of OAG works on a wide variety of issues and projects, so during my Ruff Fellowship with the Division, I had the opportunity to address a large number of emerging, important, high-profile issues.  For instance, I often reviewed, revised, and in some instances helped to draft proposed legislation, such as the major certified business enterprise legislation that the Mayor submitted to the Council.  Based on extensive research of District caselaw and the legislative history of the Home Rule Act, I analyzed the nature and scope of OAG’s prosecutorial authority.  Moreover, because our office played a significant role in preparing the Mayor’s proposed set of legislative campaign finance reforms, I, along with my colleagues, researched and assessed the legal and policy considerations underlying any revisions to the District’s campaign finance law. I coordinated our office’s research efforts, contributed extensive research, and worked to convert the finalized proposals into legislative form.  The project involved direct, extensive coordination between OAG, the General Counsel to the Council, and with individual Councilmembers and their staff.  I enjoyed working on all of these projects during my Fellowship, and I am now working as a full Assistant Attorney General with the Division. 

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OAG Recognizes Its Best of The Year

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Jimmy Rock and AG Nathan

OAG presented incentive awards on March 19 for outstanding work last year that recognized the noteworthy skills, experience, and resourcefulness of our employees. This was the second year of awards given during the administration of Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan..

Ellen Efros, Deputy Attorney General for the Public Interest Division, was named the Outstanding Head of a Division.

Jimmy R. Rock won the 2012 Charles L. Reischel writing award in honor of the late deputy in OAG’s appellate division (now called the Office of the Solicitor General). Because the award was funded with non-public funds – from Mr. Reischel’s wife, Nancy E. Stanley – it comes with a $500 honorarium (the other awards are non-monetary).

Jimmy has been at OAG for about three years. He previously had worked in private practice for six years. He has been an Assistant Attorney General in the Public Advocacy Section during his time at OAG.  He says, “I have always enjoyed writing. Starting in high school, I wrote regular opinion columns for my hometown newspaper, the Muskogee Daily Phoenix. Then I studied journalism in college and worked part-time as a stringer for the Tulsa World. Writing is definitely the part of being a litigator that I most enjoy.”

Jimmy also won a Distinguished Service Award for the trial of affirmative cases. Other winners of that award were Carlos Sandoval, for trial of administrative cases; Kerslyn D. Featherstone, trial of defensive cases; Juliane T. DeMarco, preparation of litigation; George Becker, support of litigation; Stacy Anderson, handling appeals; Laurie Ensworth, preparing legal memoranda and legislation; Barbara Chesser, interagency cooperation; David Fisher, administrative/supervisory work; Roger Turpin, advocacy or collections for children; Edel Quinones, clerical/administrative professional work; and Dave Rosenthal, for other noteworthy achievements.

Other awards were given to OAG employees for team spirit, exemplary services that substantially exceeded the norm, for employees who made a significant contribution by a one-time act, employees who went the “extra mile” to help their colleagues at great personal cost, and those who have served in the office for five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, forty, and (in one case—Holloway Wooten) fifty years.

A slide show of the ceremony can be seen on the OAG Share Site.

OAG'S Scrambled Legs Do Well in First Races

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 (From left, Darrell Chambers, Portia Roundtree, Juliane DeMarco, and Chad Copeland)

The OAG Running Team, the OAG Scrambled Legs, has competed in two races this spring. On April 21, the team took part in its inaugural event, the Parkway Classic 10 mile race in Old Town Alexandria. Assistant Attorney General Darrell Chambers said, “It was a great race and everyone worked hard in the last few months to break personal records for distance and speed.  The team came in sixth place out of ten competing teams.”

The team averaged one hour twenty-seven minutes and fifteen seconds, with Darrell scoring the best time, followed by Shermineh Jones, Portia Roundtree, Scott Peary, Chad Copeland, and Juliane DeMarco. 

On June 8, five OAG runners took part in the American Heart Association’s Lawyers Have Heart 10k starting at The Washington Harbour in Georgetown.

Jimmy Rock recorded the best time, followed by Portia Roundtree, Darrell Chambers, Juliane DeMarco, and Chad Copeland. Says Portia: "Everyone finished strong, improving their times from the last race. It was a fun event and a great opportunity to network with other lawyers." 

Get in touch with Darrell if you are interested in joining the team for future events.

OAG Donations to DC One Fund Last Year Exceed 2011 Total

When the final totals were compiled, OAG staffers donated $44,845.29 to the 2012 DC One Fund, with a participation rate of 13.8%. This surpassed the 2011 total of $30,893.57. Thanks to everyone for their generosity..