Suit Yourself Who's Suing the D.C. Government This Week?

Plaintiff: Timothy Washington

Defendants: Former Mayor Anthony A. Williams, former D.C. Council Chairman Linda Cropp, parole-service employee Stephanie Gray

Damages Sought: $1 million and a sex offense expunged from a permanent record

Complaint: Washington was convicted of a sex offense in 1977. He did his 15 years under the D.C. Youth Rehabilitation Act, which allows convictions to expire from one’s record, and he expected to get on with life after that. “The debt been Paid in ‘full,’” he writes. Then the cops nabbed him for burglary, and he went back to jail. Under the provisions of the Sex Offender Registration Act, passed under Williams and Cropp, Washington had to register as a lifetime offender and receive mandatory treatment because he had gotten in trouble again—even though it wasn’t a sex offense. “Their actions has landed me in ‘Slavery,’” he writes.

Quality of Representation: Moderate. Washington couldn’t write a grammatical sentence if his freedom depended on it. And when he wants to make a legal point, he simply writes the word “law” and starts listing phrases. Yet he makes a simple argument in nine short paragraphs, without getting lost in the civil-rights rhetoric, Big Brother paranoia, or revelations from God that weigh down most handwritten pleadings.

Summary Judgment: It’s in the Constitution, stupid. We’re not exactly Laurence Tribe over here, but Washington seems to have a point: He served his sentence. Just as he can’t be tried again (double jeopardy; see Fifth Amendment), he can’t be punished by a law passed well after his crime was committed (“ex post facto” laws; see Article 1, Sections 9 and 10). Plaintiff is awarded expungement of his sex offense. Defendants are ordered to pile into a van for a trip to the National Archives.

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