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Letters to the Editor

Attorneys General Push Back Against
Senators Who Protect Oil Industry

     Democratic attorneys general from the District of Columbia, Maryland and 15 other states fought back this week against warnings from Senate Republicans who told major law firms to avoid getting too pushy with promoting socially conscious investing to their clients.
     The senators wrote letters to major law firms earlier this month threatening a congressional investigation into lawyers who advocate for ESG investment.
     ESG stands for environmental, social and governance. It refers to an investment strategy that screens investments based on corporate policies and that encourages companies to act responsibly.
     The strategy generally recommends staying away from investments in the coal, oil and gas industries.
    Senate Republicans are concerned that aggressive promotion of the investment strategy by law firms could hurt the fossil fuel energy industries, perhaps eventually raising prices for consumers as the businesses struggle for profitability.
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D.C. in Brief

Legal Briefs

D.C. Mayor Hesitates on Signing
Law Revising Criminal Code

     Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser still is hesitating on whether to sign a bill into law that updates and overhauls the local criminal code.
     It passed unanimously in the heavily Democratic D.C. Council last week but Bowser expressed concerns that it advances soft-on-crime policies that could contribute to a rising crime rate.
     She said she agreed with 95 percent of it but was “disappointed with several provisions."
     Her greatest criticism focused on reducing prison time for carrying a pistol without a license and being a felon in possession of a gun.
     The new code eliminates nearly all mandatory minimum prison sentences, including some for the gun crimes blamed for the worst of Washington’s violence.
     Many of the concerns mentioned by Bowser are being repeated in cities nationwide. Crime was a major issue in the nation’s midterm elections this month.
     Other provisions of the D.C. criminal code revision would require jury trials in nearly all misdemeanor cases and reduce the maximum penalties for offenses such as burglaries, carjackings and robberies. The law will take effect in three years to give the courts and police time to implement it properly.
     Anita Josey-Herring, chief judge for D.C. Superior Court, told Bowser in a letter that the guarantee of jury trials in more cases would overburden the courts. Superior Court is operating with 14 judicial vacancies.
     “Filling these judicial vacancies is vital to the fair and timely administration of justice for the public we serve,” Josey-Herring said in her letter.  operations, and the fair and timely administration of justice.”

D.C. Grand Juror Faces Criminal Charges
After Posting Proceedings on Instagram

     The Justice Department last week charged Washington, D.C., resident Alexander Hamilton with contempt and obstruction of justice for allegedly recording secret grand jury proceedings and posting them on Instagram.
     He was arrested after Metropolitan Police Department officers found Instagram video on an account with about 10,400 followers that showed proceedings and testimony in the grand jury room of D.C. Superior Court.
     Hamilton admitted posting the video when he was confronted by U.S. Attorney’s Office personnel. By then, the video had been shared in dozens of text messages and on Instagram.
     Forensic extraction from his phone showed messages indicating he knew he was not supposed to have his phone in the room during grand jury proceedings, according to the Justice Department. He also took an oath to maintain the secrecy of grand jury information.
     On Sept. 9, the same day he took the oath, Hamilton recorded a video of himself standing with his right hand raised as he was sworn in, according to the Justice Department. The video shows him looking down at his phone and saying, "I'm about to lie."
     Grand jurors are supposed to leave their phones and other recording devices in lockers in the lobby of the U.S. Attorney's Office before entering grand jury rooms.
     Hamilton, 28, was released on a personal recognizance bond but with restrictions on his social media use. He is set to appear at a preliminary hearing on Jan. 11.
     The contempt charge is a federal offense while the obstruction charge is a District of Columbia offense.
     “Grand jurors are admonished to preserve the secrecy of the proceedings by abstaining from communicating with family, friends, representatives of the news media or any other person concerning that which transpires in the grand jury room,” a Justice Department statement says.
     The case is U.S. v. Alexander Hamilton in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

We Could Use Your Help

     Thousands of DC residents need a lawyer, but can’t afford one. They could be illegally evicted from their homes, lose custody of their children, experience domestic violence, and more, all because they lack legal representation. 
      You could make a difference. By making a donation to the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, you will provide free, high-quality, zealous legal representation to low-income DC residents. Click the photo above to make a donation today. 
      Your support could prevent homelessness, domestic violence, hunger, or family separation. In fact, if just 10 people who see this ad give $28 to Legal Aid, it will be enough to staff an experienced attorney at the courthouse for a day.
      That way, DC residents like Keith King (pictured above) can get the legal representation they need to win their cases. As Mr. King put it, if it wasn’t for his Legal Aid lawyer, “I would have been homeless again.”
     Here is the link to the Legal Aid website for donations: https://www.legalaiddc.org/donate-to-legal-aid/

     For more information, contact Rob Pergament at Legal Aid at rpergament@legalaiddc.org

Trump Hit with Second Round of Lawsuit
By Female Journalist Claiming Rape

     An advice columnist who accused Donald Trump of raping her before he was president refiled her defamation lawsuit against him this week and added a new legal claim.
     The new claim of battery results from the sexual assault that E. Jean Carroll says Trump inflicted on her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s.
     She seeks compensation for what she says is damage to her reputation as a journalist after Trump called her a liar.
     Carroll added the battery allegation as her lawsuit for defamation faces increasingly dim chances of success.
     Last week, Trump pushed back with support from the Justice Department by urging the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to dismiss the lawsuit.
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Power the Civil Rights Work of Our Time

     Each day members of our community are experiencing wage theft, the effects of gentrification, discriminatory policing, collateral consequences, marginalization in schools, and barriers to public accommodations. 
     We fight alongside people facing the effects of gentrification like Amira Moore. Our work empowers the people and communities who need it most, “We can do more than we think. There’s a path to equity, we just have to step to it.” –Ms. Moore
     For more than 50 years, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee has been on the frontlines of the fight for civil rights in our community. We deploy the best legal talent, we tackle the tough cases, we fight, and we win. 
     Our work is as important today as it has ever been. Through your support, you can play a role in creating justice for thousands of marginalized members of our community. Together, we will dismantle injustice and pursue lasting change.
     Join us! Donate & subscribe: https://www.washlaw.org/support-us
     Volunteer with us: https://www.washlaw.org/get-involved/
     For more information, contact Gregg Kelley at Gregg_Kelley@washlaw.org​

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D.C. Sues Washington Commanders Again
Claiming Season Ticket Holders Cheated

     The District of Columbia’s attorney general sued the Washington Commanders football team last week for allegedly keeping refundable deposits that were supposed to be returned to season ticket holders.
     The lawsuit says the team violated Washington, D.C.’s consumer protection laws.
     D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said the refund dispute is “another example of egregious mismanagement and illegal conduct by Commanders executives who seem determined to lie, cheat, and steal from District residents in as many ways as possible.”
     The lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court was the second in eight days by Racine’s office.
    The first accused team owner Dan Snyder of encouraging a hostile work environment that included sexual harassment of cheerleaders. It also accuses National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell of helping to cover up the workplace abuses.
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