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I was reading a book on writing by Richard Rhodes when I received a call from a friend saying the new Loose Lips had written a nasty comment about me (9/8). Even though I am not running for any office, LL decided to criticize my love of sailing and advocacy of jury trials for most misdemeanors. If LL ignored his own advice of not asking about misdemeanor streamlining, he might have learned that the Ward 2 incumbent he supports has urged the chair of the Committee on the Judiciary to hold hearings on a pending bill, the Misdemeanor Jury Trial Act of 2000, which was introduced in March after both ANC2A (Foggy Bottom and West End) and the Ward 2 Democrats passed resolutions in support of such legislation. Both the Washington Lawyer (May/June 1999) and Legal Times (April 10, 2000) have found the topic worthy of discussion.
I can only guess why LL would write about me. It may have been my recent advocacy in D.C. Watch’s Mail for a media-sponsored preprimary poll of voters to let us know what people are thinking and foster interest in the primary. I followed with a comment that the same commentators who say it will be a surprise if the incumbents aren’t re-elected will scold voters for not coming out to the polls.
Rhodes wrote that critics “have a vested interest in inflating the authority of their opinions.” LL doesn’t contribute to the betterment of D.C. when he tells readers, “Don’t ask.” For those interested in the topic of jury trials for misdemeanors, I have an article available at www.iblf.com/jt_essay.htm. And stay tuned next month: The U.S. Supreme Court has expressed an interest (ordering a government response) in a case, Harrison vs. U.S., brought by a local attorney. The issue is whether the court should overturn Callan vs. Wilson, an 1883 case that opened an avenue for departing from the plain meaning of the Sixth Amendment and the right to a jury trial. It is good to see signs that those in authority have not heeded LL’s advice.
As for my love of sailing, I would note that thanks to efforts by residents who asked questions about why rentals were no longer available at the Thompson Boat Center, the neighborhood I live in is the only place I know of in the District where you can rent a sailboat.