The Legal Forum welcomes letters to the editor at email@example.com, which will be published here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Prince George’s County Police Officers
Face Grand Jury’s Criminal Indictment
The State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County joined a nationwide trend of holding police accountable through criminal prosecution by getting two officers indicted last week.
The most infamous case came from the October 2019 arrest of Demonte Ward-Blake.
He was paralyzed from the waist down during a police takedown that slammed his head and neck into the ground.
After police pulled him over for expired tags, the officers said he became disruptive. They said he kept reaching toward the center console of his car and “elbowed” an officer while he was handcuffed.
He was taken to a hospital, where he was found to be paralyzed and to be suffering from a broken nose.
A grand jury indicted Officer Bryant Strong on charges of second degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office because of the October 2019 arrest.
“We intend to seek justice on behalf of Mr. Ward-Blake and the community,” said State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 89 issued a statement of support for Strong that said, “We are confident that the evidence will show that his actions were fully justified and within policy.”
The second officer indicted was accused of identifying himself as a police officer for his second job at Prince George’s County Hospital while his police authority was suspended by his department.
Corporal Luis Aponte faces charges of theft and misconduct.
WeWork Sues its D.C. Landlord
In Dispute Over Renovations
Coworking space provider WeWork is suing its landlord at 700 K St. NW in Washington, D.C. on a $6.8 million claim of breaching a contract for property improvements.
The lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court says WeWork made improvements to the property owned by TMG 800 K Street LLC but the landlord has not provided the reimbursement required by their agreement.
WeWork filed a similar lawsuit in Boston recently seeking $11.9 million in unreimbursed renovation costs.
"In this unfortunate instance, we have initiated litigation to enforce our right to be paid money that is unambiguously owed to us," WeWork said in a statement. "In each case, WeWork has spent significant sums to improve the buildings, but the landlords have refused to pay the allowance sums they owe us.”
WeWork, which was founded in 2010, has grown into a powerhouse company for coworking with shared offices in about 100 cities. It often rents large office spaces then gives its member clients access to portions of it, along with other office amenities.
Its members include several small to mid-sized law firms in the Washington area.
TMG 800 K is an affiliate of Bethesda-based The Meridian Group, which is one of the Washington area’s largest landlords.
The 16.4-year lease gives WeWork more than 65,500 square feet of space. Meridian also agreed to give WeWork a $9 million allowance and forgive four months of its base rent to help with renovations, according to the lawsuit.
WeWork is represented by attorneys for Perkins Coie LLP.
Interstate Lawsuit Against EPA
Seeks Chesapeake Bay Cleanup
The District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over the agency’s alleged failure to fulfill its promise to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.
The dispute centers on the 2014 Chesapeake Watershed Agreement, in which the EPA pledged to intervene if six states adjoining the Bay failed to meet goals to reduce pollution runoff.
The lawsuit says the EPA took “no further action” after recognizing in August 2019 that New York and Pennsylvania are falling short of their targeted reductions in pollution. The Chesapeake Watershed Agreement calls for them to reduce their runoff levels by 25 percent by 2025.
“We filed this lawsuit to force the EPA to do its job, protect decades of environmental work and billions of dollars invested, and ensure all the watershed states work together meet pollution reduction goals,” D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine said in a statement.
No one disputes whether the interstate agreement is helping to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Improving water quality is credited with helping to restore natural reproduction of oysters.
D.C. Police and Asian Americans Disagree
Over Harassment Due to Coronavirus
Metropolitan Washington police and Asian American groups disagree on whether coronavirus has led to a spike in racist harassment as the issue gains prominence among local and national lawmakers.
“There has not been an increase of hate crimes concerning Asian community members in the District during the pandemic,” a D.C. police spokeswoman told Legal Forum News this week.
The virus has been traced to bats in the area of Wuhan, China.
She credited a proactive campaign by the police with preventing hate crimes against Asians.
“MPD’s Special Liaison Branch/Asian Liaison Unit and the mayor’s Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs conducted heavy outreach out of caution and awareness due to trends in other parts of the nation,” she said in a statement.
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
Letters to the Editor
The Legal Forum is a news service for the Washington area's legal community that also offers job listings and grant writing for eligible nonprofits organizations. If you have questions, or you would like to place an ad, please Contact Us
800 4th Street SW, No. N517 Washington, DC 20024
Phone: 240-421-6395 E-mail: email@example.com
Lapsing Eviction Moratoriums Make
Homelessness and Litigation Likely
The District of Columbia’s eviction moratorium that is set to expire in less than three weeks is compelling landlords, tenants and their attorneys to prepare for an onslaught of litigation.
The D.C. Council’s emergency legislation was intended to protect renters as the coronavirus pandemic forced the nation’s unemployment rate to 13 percent, hitting blue collar workers most likely to rent their homes the hardest.
Since then, the $600 weekly unemployment benefit has ended and landlords say they cannot wait longer to pay their own bills. The D.C. moratorium expires Oct. 8.
Attorneys advising their rental clients can look to at least three options for temporary assistance.
1. The District of Columbia’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) helps low-income residents facing eviction with funding for overdue rent, security deposits and the first month’s rent for residents moving to new apartments.