Attorney General's Office Gazette: January 2014

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January 2014

Postponement Of AG Election Remains Subject To Litigation Challenge

The D.C. Council voted narrowly in October to postpone  the first election for the office of D.C. Attorney General until 2018. That is the law as it currently exists, subject to the outcome of a pending lawsuit and a new bill introduced in the Council.  .

The lawsuit was filed by Paul Zukerberg, a declared candidate for the Attorney General position.  After a federal district court judge declined to hear the case and suggested that there was no federal issue, Zukerberg has asked a D.C. Superior Court judge to order the election to be held this year, relying on the fact that a Board of Elections ballot explanation stated that if voters approved the  2010 referendum, the election would take place in 2014.

In a motion filed January 10 seeking to dismiss the case, OAG argued that the law delaying the election is valid. The brief stressed that the language of the legislation, providing that the election would be “after” January 1, 2014, controls over BOE ballot language, and that the new Council law providing for an election in 2018 was consistent with the earlier law. In opposing a motion for a preliminary injunction, OAG’s brief said: “There is clear irreparable injury to the public at large if an election is mandated at this late date,” adding that in this scenario, Zukerberg “would be the only candidate and presumptive winner by default, in effect, an appointment by judicial fiat. The equities clearly do not favor this result.”

The new bill was introduced by Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3), one of the seven members who voted last fall to delay the election. Cheh now proposes that instead of including the Attorney General position in the April 1 primary election, it should be submitted to voters in November 2014, with candidates having the option of indicating their party affiliation, if any, on the ballot.

It was not immediately clear if Cheh could get a majority Council vote on her bill, or that it would pass legal muster. The 2010 referendum approved by voters to establish the Attorney General election provided that it must be a partisan one.

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OAG Reaches Agreement With USAO On Documents

On January 13, OAG announced that it had provided  documents between OAG and the Mayor or the Executive Office of the Mayor sought by the U.S. Attorney’s office in D.C. relating to a 2011 settlement of a civil case involving D.C. Chartered Health Plan, Inc. Attorney General Nathan continues to withhold other documents (including all internal OAG documents) under the work product and  the attorney-client privileges, which he said “reflects society’s considered judgment that candor and confidentiality with the attorney-client relationship are critical to the rule of law.”

OAG said it had “provided extensive cooperation” with the U.S. Attorney already in an investigation of the 2010 Mayoral election campaign. The Attorney General expressed the hope that the agreement would “advance the public interest in a prompt resolution of the Chartered investigation while being faithful to our obligations as the District’s lawyers.”

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AG: Impaired Driving Prosecution Improved in D.C.

OAG’s prosecution of impaired driving cases has improved in more than a year since a new statute took effect and each MPD police district has used updated breath-testing instruments, Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan said this fall. The Attorney General was a featured speaker October 18 at the annual awards luncheon of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP). OAG Deputy Attorney General Andrew Fois of the Public Safety Division has been elected a WRAP board member.

The Attorney General reviewed a four part strategy he oversaw to deal with the District’s discovery of faulty breath testing equipment before he took office. OAG prosecutors used evidence other than breath tests while they worked with the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) to set up a new breath testing system. OAG also developed tough new D.C. legislation that provides criteria for the admissibility of breath test results at trial, and resolved litigation challenging many convictions. OCME will issue regulations providing for a scientifically rigorous way of testing the equipment.

In 2013, the first full calendar year of the updated equipment and procedures, the Metropolitan Police Department arrested 1,498 people for driving-while-impaired crimes, an 8.2 percent increase from the previous year. (MPD makes most such arrests in the District; lower numbers are made by federal agencies).

In addition, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner administered 1,025 breath tests from the resumption of the program in September 2012 to November 2013.

Attorney General Nathan told WRAP “there is now a state of the art breath instrument in every one of the seven police districts, and a robust training program for breath testing is in place.” As of year’s end, 87 MPD officers have been trained as breath-test operators, and OAG’s law enforcement partners at the U.S. Capitol Police and U.S. Park Police have separate training.

WRAP again offered its longstanding successful free cab service SoberRide to potential impaired drivers during the 2013 winter holiday season.  Between December 13, 2013 and January 1, 2014, SoberRide provided nearly 1,900 free cabs rides to Washington area residents age 21 and older who otherwise may have attempted to drive home after drinking. Nearly 500 people used the service on New Year’s Eve alone.

Ruff Fellows Changing of the Guard: 19 Finish Stints, 13 Start Jan. 27

The third class of Charles (Chuck) F.C. Ruff Fellows begin their service at OAG on January 27, shortly after last year’s group of 19 Fellows finish their work. The new group includes 13 lawyers—six from George Washington University, five from Georgetown, and one each from the University of the District of Columbia and American University, said Sally Gere, Assistant Deputy Attorney General in the Civil Litigation Division, who oversees the program. The new Fellows will be assigned throughout OAG.

The first class of 10 fellows worked at OAG in 2012. The program is funded by the law schools with matching money from OAG. It was set up to address the District’s need for more lawyers and the desire among legal educators to promote public interest legal work. The fellowships are named in honor of Ruff, who served as the District’s Corporation Counsel, the position now known as Attorney General, from 1995 to 1997.

“We continue to receive outstanding applicants for the Ruff Fellows program and we are pleased that a fourth school—American University—has joined us for 2014,” Attorney General Nathan said. “The Ruff Fellows are providing excellent services for District residents as they help OAG handle its extensive caseload.”

Many of the departing Fellows recounted their work at OAG in the last issue of AGOG. Here are reports from the others:

Patrick Corcoran (George Washington)

My work as an AAG in the Criminal Section this past year has exposed me to a plethora of litigation experience for which I am very grateful. Not only have I enjoyed bringing cases all the way to trial and beyond, but in so doing I have had the wonderful opportunity to help keep the District's streets safer from drunk drivers, to help keep the parks and other areas cleaner from illegal drinking and other quality of life offenses, and to help enforce several aspects of the District's traffic and business regulatory schemes, as well as the opportunity even to help some defendants get much needed substance abuse treatment. These experiences have been invaluable to me and I am immensely grateful to have served as a Ruff Fellow.

Alicia Cullen (George Washington)

In the Equity Section of the Public Interest Division, I have had the opportunity to defend the District in various complex constitutional and civil litigation matters, most of which involve class actions or cases seeking equitable or injunctive relief.  My caseload has included claims involving negligence, intentional and toxic torts, equal protection violations, the Home Rule Act, and FOIA.  During my time with the office, I took my first deposition, managed discovery, drafted numerous dispositive motions, and worked closely with counsel at various District agencies. One major highlight was being assigned a case challenging various aspects of the D.C. Streetcar Project along H Street and Benning Road in Northeast, Washington.  While working alongside AAG Chad Naso, we successfully defended against Plaintiff’s motions for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in federal district court.  Overall, I have truly enjoyed my time as a Ruff Fellow and have especially appreciated working alongside such experienced litigators.

Karen Hu (Georgetown)

In the Personnel and Labor Relations Section, I focus on unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, and police adverse action arbitrations.  I have had the chance to conduct discovery, prepare motions to dismiss, and handle appellate matters before the D.C. Superior Court.  I have also represented the city in administrative hearings.  These litigation experiences have been invaluable.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to engage in public interest litigation. 

Joshua Karpoff  (Georgetown)

I really have enjoyed my year here at the OAG Criminal Section.  I’ve had the opportunity to try a variety of different cases, dealing with different legal and evidentiary issues, and find myself more and more confident with each case that I handle.  I also have had the privilege of working with a wonderful team of colleagues.  As for the future, I hope to continue working as a prosecutor, though nothing has been determined yet.

Julia Maus (George Washington)

My experience working in the Criminal and Juvenile Appeals Section of the Office of the Solicitor General has surpassed my expectations.  On my first day here, I was given my own appellate caseload, and I have since drafted and filed numerous briefs, motions for summary affirmance, and other pleadings.  Occasionally I also review and edit trial pleadings.

Before my Ruff Fellowship, I never thought I would have the opportunity to research and write appellate briefs on such a wide variety of topics so early in my career.  The detailed feedback I receive while drafting—both from Rosalyn Groce, Deputy Solicitor General, and Todd Kim, Solicitor General—has been invaluable to my development as a writer.  One particular highlight during my time at OAG has been taking the lead role in writing briefs in an important affirmative appeal for the Public Safety Division.  I am scheduled to argue another case at the D.C. Court of Appeals in January. I am seeking post-Fellowship employment.

David Rabe (George Washington)

This was the first year that the Commercial Division received a Ruff Fellow, and I had the privilege of being that person. I primarily focused on defending tax refund lawsuits in D.C. Superior Court, and I also assisted in several other areas the Commercial Division handles, including bankruptcy, real estate transactions, and bond financing.  As part of our effort to uphold the District’s property-tax assessments, I drafted and filed motions and discovery, appeared in court for status hearings, conducted deposition questioning, prepared expert witnesses for trial, and negotiated settlements when appropriate.  I also handled mediations in 120 different cases through the tax division of the Superior Court’s Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Program. In addition to property-tax matters, I also handled other cases dealing with income-tax claims and tax exemptions.

The most satisfying part was the positive results we obtained for the District in a number of tax cases, as well as the good relationships I developed with my colleagues at OAG and with our clients at Office of Tax and Revenue.  At first I knew very little about real estate appraisal, financial analysis, or litigation in general, but learning from other Commercial Division attorneys taught me a lot.  As a result, I was able to jump right in and contribute to our litigation efforts, and along the way I learned much about how to interact with clients and opposing counsel, how to carefully analyze intricate legal issues, and how to deal tactfully with one’s opponents without sacrificing skill in advocacy. I remain indebted to my colleagues and I will miss the good spirit of camaraderie that characterizes the Division.

In January I will be moving back home to Wisconsin to accept an appointment as an assistant legal counsel in the governor’s office.  While I am very excited for this new opportunity, I am very grateful for the honor of having served as a Ruff Fellow and I cannot think of another place where I would have rather spent the past year.”

Robert Rich (Georgetown)

I have been working on defensive civil litigation in the Equity Section of the Public Interest Division. My cases have included the successful defense of the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability in a lawsuit brought by a District Councilmember, resulting in the denial of the plaintiff’s TRO application and the dismissal of all claims against the agency.  I also have been working on behalf of a number of agencies in multiple-party related actions arising from the District’s foreclosure on United Medical Center in July 2010.

Dan Snow (Georgetown)

This past year, I have worked with the Public Safety Division’s Juvenile Section. This job has given me the valuable, and sometimes stressful, experience of a line attorney prosecuting all manner of offenses committed by juveniles in the District of Columbia. While I previously did a defense clinic in law school, I enjoyed working on this side of the cases for my ability to guide victims of crimes through their difficult times from papering to seeing their interests represented at trial and through disposition. Also, I had several trials which required good preparation and fast thinking in court. Several of the motions I had to write explored interesting aspects of criminal procedure and constitutional law. This included a particularly interesting legal problem for one of my cases involving whether a property owner must affirmatively give consent for a seizure of items on their property that they claim not to own and of which they have no knowledge. Outside of the courtroom, I found very rewarding an experience wherein several attorneys from our section volunteered to coach a mock trial session for high school students through the DC Housing Authority. I hope that we see some of them working in this office in the future. 

James Vietti  (George Washington)

I work in the Public Advocacy Section in the Public Interest Division.  My section is primarily responsible for enforcing the District’s consumer protection, false claims, and antitrust statutes.  My section litigates cases both large and small, from prosecuting claims under the District's False Claims Act seeking a few thousand dollars to being part of a multi-state coalition suing Standard & Poor’s for systemic violations of the states’ consumer protection/UDAP and securities laws.  For the past six months, I’ve been one of the primary attorneys assigned to a false claims action.  The case is moving quickly, and we opposed defendant’s motion to dismiss our complaint, and will soon move—successfully, I hope—to have defendant’s counterclaim dismissed.  It’s definitely a small case, but one that has allowed me to participate in just about every aspect of litigation, including dealing with difficult opposing counsel! 

Argatonia Weatherington (Georgetown)

I am assigned to the Neighborhood and Victims Services Section (NVS) of the Public Safety Division. My work is a mixture of criminal/civil litigation and community outreach. I have helped prosecute several drug nuisance cases, two of which are still pending before Superior Court. Along with my colleagues I helped bring about a change in some of the most drug infested properties in the District of Columbia. Much of my time is spent engaging with property owners and police officers from the 5th and 7th Districts.  Although I enjoy helping shut down brothels and drug houses, I spend the majority of my time, along with the rest of my colleagues in NVS, engaged in creative problem solving.

 

Advances in Major OAG Civil Cases

Our Public Interest and Civil Litigation divisions won significant victories in several major cases during the last quarter of 2013. More-detailed accounts will appear on the OAG website, but here are brief summaries:

Public Interest Division

--The D.C. Court of Appeals paved the way for the District to pursue at trial in Superior Court its $117 million treble damage False Claims Act suit against the Bank of America arising out of the embezzlement scheme perpetrated by former Office of Tax and Revenue employee Harriette Walters and her co-conspirators. In late November, the court agreed with the District‘s arguments that D.C.’s claims against the bank were not subject to arbitration and were properly filed in D.C. Superior Court, which will retain jurisdiction under the District’s False Claims Act, and conduct the trial. The lawsuit arose out from a conspiracy led by Ms. Walters, who created fraudulent tax return checks that her co-conspirators cashed at the Bank of America, using a District account. In 2008, the District filed an eight-count complaint against the bank, including claims of negligence, fraud, breach of common law fiduciary duty, and violations of the District’s False Claims Act. The appeal was handled by Senior Assistant Attorney General Stacy Anderson. Members of the trial team are Assistant Attorneys General Jane Drummey and Thomas Koger. ·     

--A federal judge gave preliminary approval to a settlement of claims filed in 2006 by former D.C. Jail inmates involving alleged unconstitutional detention past the date and time of their scheduled release and impermissible strip searches when they returned to the jail from court hearings. Senior United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who already had ruled that the District largely resolved the problems by February 2008, said on November 8 that a settlement providing a maximum total of $2.9 million to former inmates was “fair, reasonable, and adequate.” Other expenses in the long-running case of Barnes v. D.C. could bring the total potential settlement to $6.2 million. Division attorneys handling the case are Keith Parsons and Andrew Saindon.

--Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts ruled last month that the District had legitimate grounds for dismissing Eric Payne from his position as Director of Procurement for the Chief Financial Officer.  Granting judgment to the District on the majority of Payne’s claims in a lawsuit against the District and then-Chief Financial Officer Dr. Natwar Gandhi, the judge also found that Payne could not show that his termination violated any law or that comments made in the press about his termination sufficed for “constitutional defamation.” The case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Sarah Knapp and Keith Parsons.

--A favorable settlement was reached in a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of individuals arrested in the District from 2006 to 2012 seeking recovery of cash taken from them by the Metropolitan Police Department at the time of their arrest and forfeited under the District’s civil asset forfeiture law.  Plaintiffs alleged, under the Fifth Amendment due process clause, that the District provided constitutionally deficient notice of the forfeitures by sending notices to incarcerated individuals at their home address when they were in the District’s custody in the D.C. Jail and failing to follow up to notices returned undelivered by the U.S. Postal Service (the “Failed Notice” class).  If the District were to be found liable, the damages likely would have exceeded $4 million plus attorneys’ fees. In December, U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins the Court granted preliminary approval of a total settlement of $855,000 (including class administration and attorneys’ fees), and the parties expect the settlement to obtain final approval this spring.  The case of Hardy vs. D.C., et al, was handled by Assistant Attorney General Douglas Rosenbloom.

Civil Litigation Divison

--On January 7, 2014, Superior Court Associate Judge Natalia M. Combs Greene granted summary judgment in favor of defendant Jay Dolphin, a District contracting official who was personally sued by  Vista Contracting, Inc. and its owner Stjepan Sostaric. The plaintiffs sought $10 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages.  The District had awarded  Vista a contract for the construction and renovation of the Ward Six Senior Wellness Center.  Vista was ultimately terminated for default when the District’s contracting officer determined that it had failed to repair adequately a number of deficiencies on the project.  Vista and its president sued Mr. Dolphin for tortious interference with contract, claiming that Dolphin intentionally acted to prevent Vista’s performance on its contract with the District so as to cause Vista’s termination of default.  Judge Combs-Greene granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant on plaintiff Sostaric’s claim for tortious interference  on the basis that no contract existed between plaintiff Sostaric and the District.  As for Vista’s claim against Dolphin, the Court found that Vista produced no evidence that defendant Dolphin interfered with Vista’s contract with the District. The Court found that Vista failed to produce evidence to dispute the fact that  Vista’s termination was due to “uncured deficiencies and unsatisfactory performance.” Vista attempted to appeal the termination for default before the Contract Appeals Board.  That case was dismissed last summer on motion by the District.  Assistant Attorney General Carlos Sandoval did an outstanding job on both matters. 

--Chief Judge Roberts of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss.  The plaintiffs, Benoit Brookens and Mary Todd, sued the District and other defendants after Brookens was arrested and charged with 19 counts of criminal contempt for violating a 1986 D.C. Court of Appeals order prohibiting him from practicing law in the District. The order was issued after he appeared improperly in various landlord-tenant matters.  Brookens was a member of the Pennsylvania and Wisconsin bars, but had not been admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia.  Todd was also detained for allegedly associating with Brookens.  Brookens’ violations first came to the attention of the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law  in 2011 or 2012, when Administrative Law Judge Jennifer Long filed a complaint after Brookens attempted to appear before her in another landlord-tenant dispute.  Federal marshals and the Metrpolitan Police Department arrested Brookens at his residence.  Ultimately, Brookens was found guilty. Plaintiffs sued the defendants under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 for violating their First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights, and for malicious prosecution, assault/battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and negligence. The Court ruled that the complaint failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted against the District of Columbia. Former AAG Michael Lanzdorf and AAG Rick Ferrini prepared the briefing.

--On November 21, 2013, the District won a defense verdict in the matter of Cheryl Berkley v. D.C., et al.  In this gender discrimination case, plaintiff’s job as a work order specialist at the Department of General Services was eliminated as part of a reduction-in-force in February of 2009.  Plaintiff claimed that a new supervisor, who started in late 2008, created a hostile work environment and that she was targeted for termination because of her gender and because she complained about the new supervisor’s harassment.  The new supervisor was an individual defendant in plaintiff’s gender discrimination claims under the DCHRA.  After fewer than three hours of deliberation, the jury found that plaintiff had not established that she was subject to a hostile work environment, retaliation, or that she had complained about gender discrimination. The jury also found that gender was not a motivating factor in the elimination of her position as part of the reduction-in-force.  Assistant Attorneys General Sarah Knapp and Portia Roundtree tried the case before Superior Court Judge John M. Mott.

OAG Seeks To Amend Its Complaint In Options Charter School Case

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In early January, OAG moved for leave to amend its complaint against Options Public Charter School in Northeast D.C., which OAG alleged last October was being operated by three former managers “not for the purpose of maximizing benefits for at-risk youth” but to maximize income, revenue, and profits for themselves and two for-profit corporations they began running while they still were employed by Options. Superior Court Judge Craig Iscoe appointed a receiver for the school, at OAG’s request.

The amended complaint charges that in 2012-2013 the three managers received a total of nearly $1.3 million in additional compensation from Options, on top of their salaries from the school.  It further charges that the then-CFO of the D.C. Public Charter School Board received about $150,000 from the managers’ for-profit corporations, much of it while he was helping the managers to evade oversight and divert school dollars to themselves.  According to the amended complaint, one of the for-profit corporations originally belonged to the school, but was divided up among three managers of the school, with the CEO receiving an 80% share. 

On January 15, Judge Iscoe denied motions by individual defendants and the two for-profit corporations to dismiss the original case. The judge said that, "the District has sufficiently pleaded that Defendants may have participated in a plan to run Options contrary to its nonprofit purposes."

The case is being handled in OAG by Bennett Rushkoff, chief of the Public Advocacy Section, and Assistant Attorney General Jimmy Rock, under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Ellen Efros of the Public Interest Division.

AG Nathan, Deputy Fois Explain OAG Criminal Justice Work on Radio

In November, Attorney General Nathan Deputy Attorney General Andrew Fois taped a 30-minute radio program, part of a series of nearly 200 that have been produced by the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), a federal agency that provides probation, parole and re-entry services in the District. The interview described OAG’s criminal justice functions in response to questions from Leonard Sipes, CSOSA’s public information officer. The program can be heard at this website:

 http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2013/11/interview-irvin-nathan-attorney-general-district-columbia/

OAG Exceeds Goal For DC One Fund

OAG exceeded its goal of contributions to the DC One Fund and raised $48,300.77 with a participation rate of 14 percent. Deputy Attorney General Cory Chandler, coordinating the office’s efforts, thanked “everyone who took the time to help out our community and donate to a very worthy cause.”

Preparing For An Earthquake

The 2nd Annual Southeast Shakeout, part of a national emergency preparednessprogram, was conducted at 441 Fourth St., N.W., at 10:17 a.m. on October 17.  It was an opportunity for OAG to drill and practice our “Drop, Cover, and Hold On,” procedure for earthquake preparedness. The drill went very smoothly with excellent participation. Angela Jiggetts-Bazzi of the Support Services Division, says, “GREAT WORK!!! Let’s work toward 100% participation next year.”

Thanks To Our Emergency Response Team

As we start another challenging year of managing risks in the District of Columbia and specifically in OAG, I wanted to extend a warm and sincere message of gratitude to all of the Building Emergency Response Team (BERT) members.  Without your efforts and authentic desire to be of service in a time of real need, OAG would not be the safe place that it is to work, create, and be productive on a daily basis year-in and year-out.

Thank you OAG BERT for stepping up during these times of uncertainty and helping to provide calm assistance to all who are in need.

                                                                                                                                     – Angela Jiggetts-Bazzi

CSSD – 5th Floor

Euline Davis, Delores Ragland, Margaret Price, Christine H. Wright, Angelisa Young, Carolyn Walker, Colin Dew, Keisha McCauley-Jackson, Yvette Marbury-Long

Mental Health Section – 11th Floor

Eugene Howard, Tracey Richardson

SSD/PLED/AG’s Office – 11th Floor and 1C

Angela Jiggetts-Bazzi, Amanda Lee, Kellye Underwood, Shannon Hall, Audrey Brown, Keith Tolliver Kim McDaniel , Shamieka Donawa, Valerie Scott, Lyndell Bush, Adrian Dandridge

CLD & PAS – 6th Floor

Jay Chisolm,  Rosemary Jackson, Kathleen Walters, Julia Johnson, Joan Hungerford

Commercial & PSD – 10th Floor

Nancy Alper, Quinzel Jackson, Beverly Martino. Maureen Murat, Twila Mitchell

Wilson Building – 4th Floor

Katherine Kelley

Rushkoff Finishes NYC Marathon

Bennett Rushkoff, chief of the Public Advocacy Section of our Public Interest Division, ran in his second marathon, the New York City Marathon, on November 3 . He finished only a few minutes behind his first marathon time, 21 years ago at the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C.  Bennett was ready to run the New York City Marathon last year, but he to wait (and train) another year when the marathon was cancelled after Hurricane Sandy.  He is considering suing for the psychic cost of having to stay fit for a second consecutive year.

Appointments At OSG, DPR, DISB, OCME

Loren AliKhan has joined OAG as Deputy Solicitor General for the Civil and Administrative Appeals Section. AliKhan formerly practiced at the O’Melveny and Myers law firm in Washington.

Amy Caspari was named General Counsel for the Department of Parks and Recreation. She formerly had worked in the Office of State Superintendent of Education and OAG’s Civil Litigation Division.

J. Carl Wilson was appointed as Deputy General Counsel for the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking. He had worked at the Department of Transportation General Counsel's office and OAG”s Civil Litigation Division.

Mikelle DeVillier was named interim General Counsel at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. She will return later to the Executive Office of the Mayor.

Natale Named Chief of Neighborhood and Victim Services Section

Vanessa Natale has been appointed chief of the Public Safety Division’s Neighborhood and Victim Services Section (NVS). She succeeds Jeanette Manning, who left OAG to join the staff of the National Association of Attorneys General.  The section consists of six Assistant Attorneys General, a Ruff Fellow, three victim-witness specialists, and two paralegals. Their mission is to work with neighborhoods, communities, residents, landlords, tenants, business and others to improve the quality of life in the District. The victim-witness specialists are highly skilled at working with the Juvenile and Criminal Sections of PSD to address the needs of victims and witness starting with the papering process and covering the course of prosecutions.

The section leverages resources from across the District government to help solve problems related to nuisance properties such as those posed by drugs, guns, noise, prostitution, lead paint and abandonment.  If these problems cannot be solved without judicial intervention, attorneys in the section may bring civil nuisance abatement suits in Superior Court.

Employee Of The Month

For October, the honor went to Rachele Reid, Assistant Attorney General in the Juvenile Section of the Public Safety Division. she worked tirelessly on the issue of truancy. Not only was she a member of the Mayor’s Truancy Task Force, but she also advised the Attorney General and prepared him for testimony before the Council in February 2013.  She  prepared Deputy Attorney General Andy Fois for follow up testimony, aware that the focus of attention would be on the processing of truancy cases by the Attorney General’s Office. 

Ms. Reid attended numerous meetings with various agency partners, often working late to develop procedures and protocols for efficient processing of truancy cases.  When conflict or confusion arose in the process, she engaged all parties with diplomacy and grace.  Internally, she organized and processed over 900 Person in Need of Supervision (PINS) – Truancy case referrals over a period of approximately 30 days.  Only recently was another attorney assigned to assist her.  Deputy Attorney General Fois said,  “Ms. Reid has literally been handling a caseload that has suddenly grown to more than five times what it had been.  She also did a stellar job in preparing me for my hearing testimony which was met with praise and appreciation by the Council.”

Watch for news about the nominating procedure for OAG employees of the month in 2014.

New, Departed OAG Staff Members

New employees:  Rhesha Lewis-Plummer, OGC/DOES;  Adrianne Lord-Sorensen, OGC/DCRA; Jennifer Mulling, OGC/DDS;  Kevin O’Donnell, LCD;  Tonya Turner, FSD

Departed Employees:  Virginia Crisman, OGC/OSSE; Nilo Cuervo, PSD/Juvenile; Patricia Donkor, CLD; Juliane DeMarco, CLD; Angela Freeman, DDOT; Yemarshet Kebede, CSSD: Benjamin Lee, DDS OGC;  Yefat Levy, PSD/Criminal