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Discussion with Peter Nickles, the District of Columbia Attorney General
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When: Monday, March 15th
12:00 - 2:00 PM
Where: Room 205, Building 39
Contact: Dena Bauman
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MONDAY, MARCH 15, 2010
NOON – 1:30
Peter J. Nickles was confirmed as Attorney General on November 18, 2008, having served as Interim Attorney General for the District of Columbia since January 6, 2008. He previously served as General Counsel to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty from the time the Mayor took office in January 2007. With decades of expertise in public service law, Mr. Nickles is responsible for defending the city against lawsuits, protecting its citizens through affirmative lawsuits, and coordinating legal policy on matters that deal with compliance with court orders and transitions from court intervention.
Peter Nickles practiced as a litigator at Covington & Burling LLP from 1963 through 2006. Throughout his career, he tirelessly fought for the rights of poor and disadvantaged persons through social, institutional and political reform. Mr. Nickles’ commitment to public service dates back to the early 1960s when he was instrumental in establishing the Jackson, Mississippi office of The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He then was counsel to the Jackson State Force and the Kent State Force, reporting to the Scranton Commission on Campus Unrest from 1968-1970. From 1970-1975, he co-chaired the Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP) in Washington, DC. He served as an adjunct professor at Howard Law School from 1980-1992 and helped teach a seminar at Virginia Law School in the 1990s.
Peter Nickles is most passionate about protecting the rights of the District’s most marginalized citizens. As class counsel in Dixon v. Barry, filed in 1974, he helped secure significant relief for thousands of homeless and mentally retarded residents of the District of Columbia. This case, which required nearly 30 years of litigation, resulted in the creation of community-based services for persons with mental illness.
With an abiding interest in the rights of prisoners, Peter Nickles, in Twelve John Does v. District of Columbia and in John Doe v. District of Columbia, was appointed by the United States District Court to represent all of the prisoners confined to the District of Columbia’s Central and Maximum Security Facilities regarding a plethora of unconstitutional conditions. In Inmates of the Modular Facility v. District of Columbia, he negotiated an effective Consent Decree designed to cure constitutional deficiencies in security, health care, sanitation, and fire safety. In Women Prisoners v. District of Columbia, a class-action litigation brought on behalf of the District’s women prisoners, he won an injunction requiring the District of Columbia to provide adequate reproductive health care, to take steps to prevent sexual abuse, harassment and other relief. Under his leadership, these cases have been instrumental in reducing violence, alleviating overcrowding and improving Medicaid and mental health services for prisoners in the District of Columbia.
In 2002, the Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Nickles one of Washington’s 75 Best Lawyers and wrote: "What distinguishes Nickles from other corporate lawyers is that he probably gives away more hours to good causes than anyone in town.” For his unrelenting years of public service, the District of Columbia Bar presented Mr. Nickles with the Pro Bono Service Award in May 1998.
In his role as Attorney General, Peter Nickles stepped up efforts across a variety of areas to improve safety and the quality of life of District residents, including:
  • Sued recalcitrant landlords to improve conditions for tenants
  • Shut down used car dealerships which were in serious violation of District laws and backdrops for illegal activities
  • Closed down night clubs that fan the flames of violent crime
  • Worked tirelessly to improve the delivery of child and family services and to accelerate the Child and Family Services Agency’s successful completion of court-ordered stipulations
  • Negotiated the sale of Greater Southeast Hospital (now United Medical Center), ensuring residents east of the Anacostia River access to quality health care
  • Worked to improve the services of the Department of Disability Services to better serve physically and mentally challenged citizens
  • Stopped a mortgage title company and its principal from continuing business in the District after it took advantage of citizens in a mortgage rescue scam
  • Worked with US Attorney to strengthen criminal penalties by submission of the Omnibus Anti-Crime Amendment Act of 2008 Sued Bank of America for its role in the Office of Tax Revenue scandal that cost the District $50 million
  • Stopped auto title lenders from preying on local consumers by charging exorbitant interest rate on auto title loans Sued participants in a leasing scam that cheated scores of local African-American church congregations out of tens of thousands of dollars each
  • Obtained mortgage relief for thousands of homeowners defrauded by the unscrupulous lending practices of a national mortgage company
  • Recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars from national pharmaceutical manufacturers who sold drugs for purposes other than those for which they were approved
  • Saved District residents millions of dollars in charges for Emergency 911 service

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