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​

D.C. in Brief

Legal Briefs

D.C. Settles Sexual Harassment Claims
Of Women Against Former Deputy Mayor

     Two women who claimed to have been sexually harassed by former deputy Washington D.C. mayor John Falcicchio reached a settlement agreement with the city last week.
     Falcicchio resigned abruptly as Washington’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development in March 2023 amid the allegations. He was a longtime aide to Mayor Muriel Bowser.
     Exact terms of the settlement were not disclosed but the amount of compensation is known to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The two women, who were not identified, also get to keep their jobs.
     “We can confirm that the [Mayor's Office of Legal Counsel], on behalf of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, has settled the two administrative complaints against the former Deputy Mayor,” attorneys for the city said in a statement. “The confidentiality provisions in the agreements preclude us from disclosing the terms of the settlements, except as required by law.”
     The two women accused Falcicchio of persistent sexual harassment that included lewd messages and inappropriate comments. Their allegations were backed up through an investigation by lawyers for the mayor’s office.​
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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. 
      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​

Justice Dept. Plans Reclassification
Of Marijuana to Less Dangerous Drug

     President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a recommendation for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to relax restrictions on marijuana.
     A notice of rulemaking the Department of Justice published in the Federal Register would shift cannabis from the highly restrictive Schedule I classification under the federal Controlled Substances Act to a more loosely regulated Schedule III.
     The proposal represents the biggest change in drug policy since marijuana was criminalized more than 50 years ago.
     For the growing number of cannabis dispensaries in the Washington, D.C., area, it means they will need to register with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
     Currently the region’s more than dozen dispensaries are regulated only by local authorities.​
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Virginia School Board Revives Names
Of Confederate Leaders for Two Schools

     A Virginia school board voted last week to restore the names of two schools previously named after Confederate military leaders in a move reviving disputes over whether preserving history or avoiding the image of civil rights violations should be a top priority.
     The Shenandoah County School Board changed the names of the schools in 2020 during a national outcry over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
     They changed the names back by a 5-to-1 vote after discussing the importance of preserving their historical heritage.
     Mountain View High School is returning to the name Stonewall Jackson High School. Honey Run Elementary School will once again be Ashby-Lee Elementary School.
     The schools are named after Confederate generals Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and cavalry commander Turner Ashby. Shenandoah County was a stronghold of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
     The school board was motivated partly by a local conservative community group called the Coalition for Better Schools. The group wrote a letter to the school board in April mentioning a survey of local residents that "indicate overwhelming support for this restoration" of the original names.
     The 2020 name change was done hastily and "revisiting this decision is essential to honor our community's heritage and respect the wishes of the majority," the letter said. 
     The school board also approved a resolution affirming its "commitment to an inclusive school environment for all" and denouncing racism.
     Opponents of reverting to the Confederate names were unconvinced of the school board’s sincerity.

Public Defenders Face Furloughs
In $3 Million Budget Shortfall

     Attorneys from the District of Columbia’s Public Defender Service will get an extra day off each week beginning next month … but not because they want it.
     They are being furloughed from mid-June through at least September because of a $3 million budget shortfall.
     PDS represents clients who cannot afford their own attorneys. The office employs 250 defense lawyers, investigators and other support personnel.
     The furloughs are certain to cause more backlogs in D.C. Superior Court cases but PDS officials say they have no better option.
     PDS Director Heather Pinckney notified judges and prosecutors of the once weekly furloughs in a memo that said defense attorneys “will not be able to appear in any court for any matter, including initial appearances, preliminary hearings and trial.” They also won’t visit or confer with clients in the D.C. jail.

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Letters to the Editor

Latest News

About Us  

The Legal Forum is a nonprofit news service for the Washington area's legal community that also offers attorney job listings as well as amicus briefs and grant information for charitable organizations. If you have questions, please Contact Us

    The Legal Forum welcomes letters to the editor at tramstack@gmail.com, which will be published here.

Pet Owners Sue Private Kennel
For Dead Dogs After Flooding

     A private kennel in Washington, D.C., is being sued by pet owners whose dogs drowned during flooding last summer.
     The case combines competing interests of tort law in determining whether the kennel, District Dogs, could be liable.
     The plaintiffs are arguing the flooding and drowning of eight dogs was foreseeable but that District Dogs failed to take adequate precautionary measures.
     A statement from District Dogs indicates its attorneys plan to argue the flooding on August 14 was a superseding cause that should absolve the kennel of liability.
     A superseding cause is something that happens after the defendant's action, which was both the proximate cause of the injury and unforeseeable to the defendant.
     District Dogs’ action was pet care. The kennel in Northeast D.C. says it complied with all regulations and passed inspections.
     A report from the city’s emergency management agency also found no code violations by District Dogs.
     Nevertheless, the plaintiffs say in their lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court that the business had flooded repeatedly during previous storms, which should have given the owners notice they need to prepare better for high waters. Ten dogs died in the roughly six feet of water that flooded the kennel.
     The lawsuit says District Dogs should be liable for "gross negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and more."
     The kennel denied liability in a press statement that said,  "We believe that this action is without merit and intend to vigorously defend this suit, complete with a full recitation of all efforts undertaken to ensure the safety of this facility, our staff, customers, and the dogs in our care."
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net) at email: tramstack@gmail.com or phone: 202-479-7240.