The District of Columbia attorney general's office today defended the city's compensation of private lawyers in a wrongful arrest case against the city, responding to a request for an investigation lodged earlier this week by the local police union.
In a letter (PDF) sent today to the D.C. Office of the Inspector General, Attorney General Irvin Nathan said that fees paid in the past were appropriate and accused Fraternal Order of Police Chairman Kristopher Baumann of making "incorrect or misleading statements" in his January 28 letter to the inspector general's office.
Nathan wrote that contrary to Baumann's claims that the proceedings had involved potentially criminal issues in recent years – a federal magistrate judge is investigating allegations of evidence mishandling – the case has always been a civil matter. As a result, the fees paid to private lawyers for police officials involved were proper, Nathan said.
Since private lawyers recently retained by Metropolitan Police Department general counsel Terrence Ryan and former senior assistant attorney general Monique Pressley are working pro bono, Nathan said there could be no issue. Nathan disputed that there was any evidence of criminal misconduct by Ryan or Pressley and noted that no judge had ever found criminal conduct by a city employee involved.
The underlying case involves mass arrests in 2002 during demonstrations around Pershing Park in downtown Washington against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.