D.C. Court Overturns Delay of Attorney General Election

The District of Columbia's highest court ruled the city must hold an election for the office of attorney general as soon as practically possible.

Wednesday's ruling by the D.C. Court of Appeals reverses a lower-court ruling and invalidates a law passed by the D.C. Council.

The Council voted last year to postpone the city's first election for attorney general until 2018. The position is currently a mayoral appointment.

City voters approved a 2010 ballot measure that called for residents to elect their top attorney starting this year.

Defense lawyer Paul Zukerberg, who ran for an at-large Council seat in 2013, sued the Council following the vote. A lower court sided with the Council, but the Court of Appeals reversed that decision and said the election should be held this year if practically possible or as soon as possible in 2015.

The city is appealing the ruling but isn't expected to win, News4's Tom Sherwood reported, and the elections office is preparing to accept for the Nov. 4 ballot as early as next week.

"The current order is hold the election in 2014 and we expect that to withstand any further challenge," Zukerberg said.

D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan released the following statement: 

We are studying the Court’s Order and awaiting its opinion. We continue to believe that the Council of the District of Columbia had the authority to interpret the 2010 Charter Amendment to authorize a statute scheduling the Attorney General election to be in 2018, and we will be drafting a petition to the full en banc court of the D.C. Court of Appeals on that key point. We will also be working with the Board of Elections and the Council to develop a full explanation of the practical and legal issues associated with rushing to hold the Attorney General election in 2014, which we will present in any further Superior Court proceedings following the Court of Appeals’ final decision.

 Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells, who lost his bid for mayor, said he also is considering running.

"I by far am not hanging my spurs up," he said. "I'm still going to work on behalf of the citizens in one capacity or another. I'm not ruling anything out but I'm not announcing anything either."

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