Loose Lips

Peter Nickles Likes the Caps Button

Peter Nickles

If past statements are any indication, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles is out of a job once the new mayoral regime takes power. He could also be in trouble with his profession, as Nickles is being investigated by the D.C. Bar in connection to a potential conflict of interest.

If the fact that he's been accused of having orchestrated the ouster of former juvenile justice honcho Marc Schindler, who was then replaced by Nickles' protege, Robert Hildum, isn't enough to convince you that Nickles may have been mucking around with the juvie system, you're in luck. Nickles apparently likes to write e-mails that explicitly confirm it, using all caps.

In an e-mail the A.G. sent out to members of Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration (provided to City Paper by a source), Nickles—far from refusing to get involved with discussions involving the youth justice system because of a potential conflict of interest—uses the Jerry M case that the D.C. Bar is investigating to bolster his cred.

Discussing "short term efforts to reduce YSC [Youth Services Center] population" in 2007, Nickles writes:

LET'S FIND SECURE BEDS ELSEWHERE-WE HAVE PUT OURSELVES INTO AN IMPOSSIBLE SITUATION-AS SOMEONE WHO KNOWS A LITTLE ABOUT THIS ISSUE HAVING BEEN LEAD JERRY M. COUNSEL I WOULD LIKE MY SUGGESTIONS CONSIDERED-THANKS

A tick later, in another all caps e-mail, Nickles digs himself deeper into the conversation, offering that the District's New Beginning's detention center needs to be expanded:

WE SHOULD ALSO EXAMINE THE POPULATION NUMBERS AT NEW BEGINNINGS AND HOW QUICKLY WE CAN GET ADDITIONAL SECURE BEDS. THE SOURCE OF THE PERSISTENT PROBLEM IS THAT WE HAVE TOO FEW BEDS AT NEW BEGINNINGS

In another e-mail in which he mentions "bad kids", Nickles frets over a 20 percent increase in youth violence:

YOU SHOULD SEE THE RAP SHEETS ON THESE KIDS. We are facing a persistent long term problem with YSC and we need to reexamine DYRS policy re putting kids into the community and then inadequate monitoring of those kids

If the conflict of interest questions are murky (can we really expect an AG not to get involved in juvenile justice issues?),  the e-mails certainly provide a peek into how Nickles thinks about the city's wayward youth. Like many prosecutors, he seems to prefer incarceration to rehabilitation. If Fenty had won the primary, we would have likely eventually seen a Nicklesian change in the way the District deals with youth offenders. As it stands, we'll have to wait on all-but-guaranteed future mayor Vince Gray to make a move in order to see how things will shake out.

Comments

  1. #1

    Hildum just wants to give kids a Nickles to tickle their pickles.

  2. #2

    Nickles isn't completely wrong (and believe me I HATE saying that because he's more than a bit of a douche).

    New Beginnings is insufficient. The District has 2,000 juvenil offenders...only 60 of them are incarcerated in New Beginnings (or at least only 60 are supposed to be there) with all the wrap-around services it provides (school, counseling, etc.). The rest are in group homes, often in their own communities where they got in trouble in the first place, with little to no rehabilitative services.

    The answer isn't to lock them all up, but there has definitely got to be a better approach than the way things are currently handled by D.C.

  3. #3

    Think Nickles is right on this one as well. Also, let's look at the BIG picture. He may be somewhat of a grump but he did initially file this lawsuit because clearly he cared enough about these kids' situation to do so. Now, he is doing everything on the other end to resolve the situation. There are worse things this guy could be doing.

  4. #4

    This does indeed confirm what many of us who live amongst juvenile violence have been saying for a few years now. We should put these emails on the headstones of the dead, maybe starting with Arthur Daniels.

  5. #5

    The rule Nickles is facing is about representing Jerry M. and then interjecting himself into this matter. I am not sure how it will play out cause I don't know all the details. I think that it may be improper for the attny general to be so involved in YSC when there is no case or controversy for him to address. I could very well be wrong. I will say that NIckles is pretty sloppy having such a conversation via email.

  6. #6

    Peter Nickles is not worth discussion.

  7. #7

    PETER PENNY!

  8. #8

    "(can we really expect an AG not to get involved in juvenile justice issues?)"

    If it's a conflict of interest to do so, particularly as it relates to litigation in which you were formerly counsel to the opposing side? Yes. He should have assigned this to a deputy and stayed out of it. Potential conflicts often arise in government practice because the government touches practically everything. There should have been a wall and he should not have breached it.

  9. #9

    And I hope whoever provided you this had authority to disclose privileged attorney-client communications.

  10. #10

    If he represents one side and was substantially involved, then he can't ethically work on the other side, unless he gets waivers from his clients. And I agree withh the writer who said that there should have been a wall. This is done all the time, especially in government.

  11. #11

    Bye Granpa Munster.

  12. #12

    And he wrote that back in 2007, and even today I don't think anyone can really disagree with it.
    In my experience with his statements are spot-on.

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