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In early December, AG Peter Nickles decided to pick a fight with an attorney handling a special education case. Nickles’s office filed a lawsuit against the attorney after the man had filed a claim for his attorney’s fees. Here’s what we wrote in December:
Attorney John A. Straus had the audacity to ask for his legal fees to be paid. The Straus legal narrative went like this: In the summer, he wanted a psych evaluation for one of his clients. The District granted that his client could get a private evaluation and that the city would pay for it. In it’s letter, the District left out the part about paying Straus’ attorney’s fees. So Straus filed a due-process complaint.
This was enough to tick off Nickles. So he sued Straus over attorney’s fees the city incurred while handling his complaint. Nickles told the Post this lawsuit “is likely the first in a series of actions to push back against what he described as a ‘very aggressive plaintiff’s bar’ in the District that has flooded the system with special education actions.”
Now, a federal judge has ruled against Nickles. According to the Examiner, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Roberts tossed out Nickles lawsuit and rebuked him in his written opinion:
“It is beyond ironic that D.C.’s attorney general complains with great flourish … about lawyers who help parents secure disabled children’s rights, when his client, the [schools] has been found repeatedly in this court to have violated the children’s rights,” Roberts wrote in a footnote to the 10-page decision. “It is particularly unclear how the attorney general’s choice to sue in federal court … and not sue in the more streamlined and far less costly small claims branch of our D.C. Superior Court furthers his interest in saving taxpayer money.”
Maybe Nickles will think twice about going after special-ed lawyers. He might want to help fix DCPS first.