City Desk

Councilmember Cheh Calls For Nickles To Resign

Mary Cheh

On Wednesday, a federal judge weighed in on the Office of the Attorney General's conduct in a Pershing Park civil suit. Plaintiffs attorneys alleged that critical pieces of evidence had been destroyed, doctored and lost as a result of the AG's incompetence or worse.  Judge Emmet G. Sullivan's ruling was clear: he called the evidence problems "abuse" and wondered if residents could even trust the District government.

“It raises serious questions about when, if ever, can anyone trust their government," Sullivan stated.

Sullivan promised that the sanctions he would impose would be painful. He has ordered AG Peter Nickles to submit a sworn statement explaining how the evidence could have gotten lost and turned up severely doctored. The judge also called on the D.C. Council to get involved.

Today, Councilmember Mary Cheh tells City Desk that Nickles should resign.

“I think he should resign," Cheh says. "I don’t think he should have ever been appointed...You start messing with a federal judge in a case where you are hiding evidence or destroying evidence—that’s gone to a new level.”

Cheh would like to see the council investigate the Office of the Attorney General's conduct in this case.

"I had a conversation with [Councilmember Phil Mendelson]  after the judge had his encounter with the AG’s office," Cheh says. " I do believe he is also interested in it. How it will proceed, what we will do I’m not sure. This is a really shocking breach of faith…It’s lawless. I can’t get my jaw up from the ground it’s dropped so far."

When reached for comment, Mendelson says he is "definitely" looking into opening up an investigation.

"The D.C. Attorney General is supposed to be protecting this city not increasing our liability," Mendelson says.

Nickles failed to return phone calls seeking comment.

*photo by Darrow Montgomery.

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  • Daddy Grace Fish Sandwich

    Ahh, this news feels like waking up on Christmas morning.

  • Sally

    Cheh's still pissed off that Nickels forced out the wife of Cheh's election puppet master from being Attorney General.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    Sally Nickles, you're an idiot. Cheh is angry b/c Nickles is corrupt & DC will lose tens of millions of dollars on this case. The lawyers should be disbarred & go to prison.

  • Albert Shamu

    It's not about local political maneuvering. This case and the AG's and the police chief's actions are about the people's right to protest, wrongful arrest and evidence tampering. We should be enraged. Punishment must be meted out.

  • DC Lawyer

    Calling for Nickles' resignation is absolutely appropriate. I hope that the Council follows through on taking action, as Nickles clearly will not resign voluntarily. There is no more pompous man around, with such utter disregard for the law and the constitution. It is a disgrace that he is called Attorney General, when he is really just an egomaniac and functioning as the personal agent of the Mayor. Both of them should go, but if the Council can make headway with moving Nickles out, that will be a good start.

  • Lee

    The council should change the law and impose stiff penalties for any government official particularly found liable for breaking the law, administrative rules, and collective bargaining agreements. As an initial act they should petition congress to amend the Home Rule Charter to include provisions for the permanent removal of the executive and council members convicted of crimes or ethical violations.

  • Former Staffer

    I was at the protest and I addressed Chief Ramsey specifically and told him what he was doing was illegal and unconstitutional. I was escorted away from him but not arrested because of my Congressional ID. Ramsey knew what he was doing and he should be held CRIMINALLY responsible.

  • Accountability

    Former Staffer, you should contact the plaitiffs' attorneys at (202)232-1180 and let them know. Your interaction might be important evidence against Ramsey.

  • Francesco Sinibaldi

    Some steps in the wind...

    I hear, in
    the strength
    that always
    remains, the
    delicate rhymes
    of a deep
    sensibility, and
    even a pleasure
    where the
    sun-rise appears...

    Francesco Sinibaldi

  • JB

    Are there any members of the DC government at any level that aren't incompetent crooks?

  • jfc1

    "Calling for Nickles’ resignation is absolutely appropriate."

    ...and as a lawyer you should know that no one in power does anything unless they are either forced to do it or they want to do it.

    There's one guy who can force Nickles to resign. Otherwise you're going to have to trap him the old-fashioned way.

  • downtown rez

    The original incident between MPD and the protesters happened in 2002. I believe the lawsuit was filed that year. Nickels was appointed over 5 years later.
    My question: How much of the alleged evidentiary shennanagans can be shown to have happened in Nickels shop- and not at MPD- and in Nickels shop after he was appointed as AG?
    I'm not seeing that sort of critical detail reported anywhere. And without it, Cheh is blowing smoke.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    Rez, this is yet another idiotic comment from you. The evidence was destroyed during Nickles's tenure. The Federal judge, who knows more about the case than anyone here, is apparently blaming Nickles.

    You obviously are not a lawyer. The lawyers who have commented here - including me - recognize what a serious issue this is. Yet you insist on defending the Fenty administration - yet again. Why don't you stop commenting on issues about which you have absolutely no knowledge?

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    Poll: Is "Rez" (a) Fenty (b) Nickles (c) a Fenty flunkie (d) just a random idiot?

  • ArlingtonAaron

    I don't know about the intra-commenter politics around here, but as one of the arrestees myself, I think "rez" may be on target... if you read the plaintiff's sanctions motion, it seems that the key piece of evidence, the Joint Operations Command database may have been erased within MPD... and it seems to have happened way back when the Council was investigating this originally.

    Not that Nickles is clear by any means... there's the problem of the totality of discovery abuses and deletions that are going to be grounds for various disbarment hearings in this town for years... but if you look at this carefully, there's more too it.

  • Truth Hurts

    Three cheers for Judge Sullivan. Missing/destroyed evidence is a problem in many, if not most, cases brought against DC govt agencies. Most judges have just seen it as business as usual, thereby allowing DC to get away with litigation abuses that private litigants would be sanctioned for. Let's see whether Sullivan's actions result in DC changing its practices. Stay tuned.

  • Sally

    Angry Al's legal prognostications are about as straight and narrow as Michael Jackson's nose.

    Cheh hates Nickels because he doesn't fear her mushy legal mind and because he hounded Linda Singer out of office (Singer is married to Joe Sternlieb, a real estate developer lobbyist who was greatly responsible for getting Cheh elected).

    If Cheh would put aside her vendetta against Nickels, she could review all the material she collected when she was special counsel to the Council (appointed by Kathy Patterson) investigating the arrests. That would show that MPD, the Attorney General's office, the FBI, the Secret Service and the Mayors Office have been lying about all sorts of stuff related to those mass arrests since the day they occurred.

    I have no doubt the city will ultimately pay a whole lot of money to settle these cases. But at this point, to blame Nickels for the cover-up that began with Ramsey in 2002 is idiotic. The coverup goes back 7 years and involves lots of government officials; Nickels simply has the bad luck of being the city's top lawyer when the cases are finally going to trial.

    Has Cheh asked for Cathy Lanier's resignation? How about Peter Newsham? They were both intimately involved in the arrests? How about the prosecution of Charles Ramsey for perjury? How about the depositions of Anthony Williams and Linda Singer for what they knew about the coverup?

    Nope.

    She's obsessed only with Nickels.

  • Q

    Sally and DRez pretty much have my sentiments. I haven't read all the documents related to this case but, to call for anyone's resignation based on the information available is hyperbole. There is no legal premise for that...it's simply Cheh's personal grandstanding. I'm convinced that this case is 60 percent bumbling/incompetence/mishandling the evidence and 40 percent cover-up. I'm NOT a fan of Nickles (does he actually LIVE at the DC address?) but there seems to be a lot of culpability on others as well. Those lawyers who are salivating just because the Judge is going to 'stick it to' Nickels remind me of the O.J. opponents who felt that his latest conviction makes up for the first acquittal.

    The only way to get Nickels out is to vote Fenty out. End of story. He will not quit, apologize, accept blame, etc.

  • Downtown rez

    Sally is right. It's politics. Pure and simple.

  • Truth Hurts

    Sally, DRez and Q are correct about the MPD/AG's bumbling/coverup preceding Nickels' tenure. Read the transcript of the hearing, including Judge Sullivan's remarks. But Nickels nevertheless ought to formally make a serious offer of judgment now. Then, if the plaintiffs don't accept it, and if they don't later achieve a higher jury award, the plaintiffs have to pay litigation costs going forward and they may not be entitled to recover civil rights attorney fees going forward, either. Dc's already incurred close to half a million in legal costs and court fines. And guess what? They're still going to lose the case anyway.

  • SaveDC

    Why aren't these cases investigated as obstruction of justice and or tampering with physical evidence? MPD involved officers Newsham and Lanier and untold others. AG involved attorneys including Nickles. MPD General Counsel attorneys Ryan and Harris. Shortly after the settlement of these cases there should be a slew of forced or unforced resignations, firings, indictments and disbarments for dc government attorneys involved in the destruction of evidence.

  • ward 5 resident

    Angry Al,

    As usual i'm on the same side of the fence as you are!!! I dont understand why some things aren't as transparent to other people as they are to me. This DC administration is the absolute worse. To answer your question I pick "e" all of the above. And not afraid to voice it - Fenty cant fire me, i'm not a DC employee... Nickels is such an arrogant azz.

  • Q™

    It's time that this fence either gets removed or made into a wall.

    It is surprising Al in all your commentary that your "lawyering" (high falutin' term for the practice of law) didn't teach you impartiality. The evidence points to multiple persons or entities. Peter Nickels is only part of the ensemble cast, and is responsible for where it can be PROVEN he was not complicit in turning over the logs. DC of course is liable, but not necessarily on Nickels watch. I don't like my tax dollars being spent on this either. He should've settled this matter quickly, as an appeal now would only make matters worse. Calling for his resignation goes on the long list of July Resignation calls:

    -Catania and blogger The Advoc8te calls for Barry's resignation.

    -Cheh calls for Nickels' Resignation.
    -Mendelson calls for Quintana's Resignation

    Is it someone I'm missing? Is calling for a resignation En Vogue?

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  • SaveDC

    Please put the lower level DC police and Unified Communications employees under oath by DC City Council hearings or Federal Grand Jury. A DC GOVERNMENT employee or employees intentionally erased the tapes. By D.C Code statutes that’s a criminal offense.

    22-2402. Perjury
    a) A person commits the offense of perjury if:

    (1) Having taken an oath or affirmation before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in a case in which the law authorized such oath or affirmation to be administered, that he or she will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by that person subscribed is true, wilfully and contrary to an oath or affirmation states or subscribes any material matter which he or she does not believe to be true and which in fact is not true; or

    (2) As a notary public or other officer authorized to take proof of certification, wilfully certifies falsely that an instrument was acknowledged by any party thereto or wilfully certifies falsely as to another material matter in an acknowledgement.

    (b) Any person convicted of perjury shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both.

    22-2404. False swearing
    (a) A person commits the offense of false swearing if under oath or affirmation he or she wilfully makes a false statement, in writing, that is in fact material and the statement is one which is required by law to be sworn or affirmed before a notary public or other person authorized to administer oaths.

    b) Any person convicted of false swearing shall be fined not more than $2,500 or imprisoned for not more than 3 years, or both.

    22-2405. False statements
    (a) A person commits the offense of making false statements if that person wilfully makes a false statement that is in fact material, in writing, directly or indirectly, to any instrumentality of the District of Columbia government, under circumstances in which the statement could reasonably be expected to be relied upon as true; provided, that the writing indicates that the making of a false statement is punishable by criminal penalties.

    (b) Any person convicted of making false statements shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than 180 days, or both.

    22-1805a. Conspiracy to commit crime.
    (a) If 2 or more persons conspire either to commit a criminal offense or to defraud the District of Columbia or any court or agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, each shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both, except that if the object of the conspiracy is a criminal offense punishable by less than 5 years, the maximum penalty for the conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum penalty provided for that offense.

    (b) No person may be convicted of conspiracy unless an overt act is alleged and proved to have been committed by 1 of the conspirators pursuant to the conspiracy and to effect its purpose.

    (c) When the object of a conspiracy contrived within the District of Columbia is to engage in conduct in a jurisdiction outside the District of Columbia which would constitute a criminal offense under an act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia if performed therein, the conspiracy is a violation of this section if:

    (1) Such conduct would also constitute a crime under the laws of the other jurisdiction if performed therein; or

    (2) Such conduct would constitute a criminal offense under an act of Congress exclusively applicable to the District of Columbia even if performed outside the District of Columbia.

    (d) A conspiracy contrived in another jurisdiction to engage in conduct within the District of Columbia which would constitute a criminal offense under an act of Congress exclusively applicable to the District of Columbia if performed within the District of Columbia is a violation of this section when an overt act pursuant to the conspiracy is committed within the District of Columbia. Under such circumstances, it is immaterial and no defense to a prosecution for conspiracy that the conduct which is the object of the conspiracy would not constitute a crime under the laws of the other jurisdiction.

    22-2403 Subornation of perjury
    A person commits the offense of subornation of perjury if that person wilfully procures another to commit perjury. Any person convicted of subornation of perjury shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both.

    22-704. Corrupt influence; officials.

    (a) Whosoever corruptly, directly or indirectly, gives any money, or other bribe, present, reward, promise, contract, obligation, or security for the payment of any money, present, reward, or thing of value to any ministerial, administrative, executive, or judicial officer of the District of Columbia, or any employee, or other person acting in any capacity for the District of Columbia, or any agency thereof, either before or after the officer, employee, or other person acting in any capacity for the District of Columbia is qualified, with intent to influence such official’s action on any matter which is then pending, or may by law come or be brought before such official in such official’s official capacity, or to cause such official to execute any of the powers in such official vested, or to perform any duties of such official required, with partiality or favor, or otherwise than is required by law, or in consideration that such official being authorized in the line of such official’s duty to contract for any advertising or for the furnishing of any labor or material, shall directly or indirectly arrange to receive or shall receive, or shall withhold from the parties so contracted with, any portion of the contract price, whether that price be fixed by law or by agreement, or in consideration that such official has nominated or appointed any person to any office or exercised any power in such official vested, or performed any duty of such official required, with partiality or favor, or otherwise contrary to law; and whosoever, being such an official, shall receive any such money, bribe, present, or reward, promise, contract, obligation, or security, with intent or for the purpose or consideration aforesaid shall be deemed guilty of bribery and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment for a term not less than 6 months nor more than 5 years.

    (b) Whosoever corrupts or attempts, directly or indirectly, to corrupt any special master, auditor, juror, arbitrator, umpire, or referee, by giving, offering, or promising any gift or gratuity whatever, with intent to bias the opinion, or influence the decision of such official, in relation to any matter pending in the court, or before an inquest, or for the decision of which such arbitrator, umpire, or referee has been chosen or appointed, and every official who receives, or offers or agrees to receive, a bribe in any of the cases above mentioned shall be guilty of bribery and upon conviction thereof shall be punished as hereinbefore provided.
    22-722. Prohibited acts; penalty.

    (a) A person commits the offense of obstruction of justice if that person:

    (1) Knowingly uses intimidation or physical force, threatens or corruptly persuades another person, or by threatening letter or communication, endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede a juror in the discharge of the juror’s official duties;

    (2) Knowingly uses intimidating or physical force, threatens or corruptly persuades another person, or by threatening letter or communication, endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede a witness or officer in any official proceeding, with intent to:

    (A) Influence, delay, or prevent the truthful testimony of the person in an official proceeding;

    (B) Cause or induce the person to withhold truthful testimony or a record, document, or other object from an official proceeding;

    (C) Evade a legal process that summons the person to appear as a witness or produce a document in an official proceeding; or

    (D) Cause or induce the person to be absent from a legal official proceeding to which the person has been summoned by legal process;

    (3) Harasses another person with the intent to hinder, delay, prevent, or dissuade the person from:

    (A) Attending or testifying truthfully in an official proceeding;

    (B) Reporting to a law enforcement officer the commission of, or any information concerning, a criminal offense;

    (C) Arresting or seeking the arrest of another person in connection with the commission of a criminal offense; or

    (D) Causing a criminal prosecution or a parole or probation revocation proceeding to be sought or instituted, or assisting in a prosecution or other official proceeding;

    (4) Injures any person or his or her property on account of the person or any other person giving to a criminal investigator in the course of any criminal investigation information related to a violation of any criminal statute in effect in the District of Columbia;

    (5) Injures any person or his or her property on account of the person or any other person performing his official duty as a juror, witness, or officer in any court in the District of Columbia; or

    (6) Corruptly, or by threats of force, any way obstructs or impedes or endeavors to obstruct or impede the due administration of justice in any official proceeding.

    (b) Any person convicted of obstruction of justice shall be sentenced to a maximum period of incarceration of not less than 3 years and not more than 30 years, or shall be fined not more than $10,000, or both. For purposes of imprisonment following revocation of release authorized by § 24-403.01, obstruction of justice is a Class A felony.

    22-723. Tampering with physical evidence; penalty.
    (a) A person commits the offense of tampering with physical evidence if, knowing or having reason to believe an official proceeding has begun or knowing that an official proceeding is likely to be instituted, that person alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, or removes a record, document, or other object, with intent to impair its integrity or its availability for use in the official proceeding.

    (b) Any person convicted of tampering with physical evidence shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned for not more than 3 years, or both.

    It’s time to hold DC GOVERMENT employees accountable. This multi-million dollar PershingGATE alleged crimes created by “Ramsey, Lanier and Newsham, LLP ” must be investigated criminally to result in indictments and guilty pleas.

    Plus, disbarments for AG’s office and MPD General Counsel’s Office attorneys.

    The Honorable Councilmembers Cheh and Mendelson please investigate immediately the corruption that occurred with PershingGATE. Please do not allow the DC GOVERNMENT employees involved in this massive cover-up to continue receiving a paycheck from the District of Columbia.

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