A D.C. Council committee will have to physically find and serve a subpoena on Sulaimon Brown, the center of a probe on city hiring practices, to compel him to testify at a council hearing, according to Superior Court Judge Judith N. Macaluso.
David Zvenyach, general counsel for the council, said in an interview that he wasn’t sure what to expect at the hearing. But he said he may prepare a brief to convince Macaluso that Brown could be served by certified mail, as attempted by the council after Brown was not served in the traditional way.
Macaluso said in court, “the bugaboo of service raises its head.”
“I’m not aware of any exception to the service requirement,” she said.
But Macaluso also said the council’s predicament with serving Brown “is an interesting situation” since Brown appears to answer media calls and calls from “my chambers.”
Zvenyach said, “Not everybody. He doesn’t answer everybody’s calls.”
Brown did not appear in court Wednesday.
“He’s here. He’s not in Tahiti,” Macaluso said, referring to Brown’s presence in the District.
The judge agreed to another status hearing June 3. Zvenyach said the council committee hopes to serve Brown soon so he can appear at a council hearing the same day as former city special assistant Cherita Whiting on June 6.
Whiting has said, like Brown, that she was not properly served though Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) said both Brown and Whiting were avoiding service.
In a brief interview, Zvenyach said Whiting is now cooperating. The committee is also seeking court intervention on compelling Peyton Brooks, a former special assistant and son of campaign consultant Howard Brooks, to testify. He and his father have informed the committee that they would plead the Fifth Amendment if brought in to testify. They were both excused until recently when the council questioned the younger Brooks’ reasoning.
Zvenyach had no comment on Brooks.
Brown, a former mayoral candidate, has alleged that the senior Brooks and Lorraine Green, chairman of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s campaign and transition, gave him payments last year and that he was also promised a city job in return for bashing then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on the campaign trail. Gray, Green and Brooks have denied the allegations now under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and The Washington Post has not been able to independently verify any payments.
Brown has said he is cooperating with federal probes, including a separate investigation by a Congressional committee.