Ethics trial scheduled for top D.C. administrative law judge


Former administrative hearings chief Mary Oates Walker, left, is fighting serious charges leveled by the city government’s ethics board. (Rebecca D’Angelo for The Washington Post)

Two months after a court ordered a District government ethics board to stop pursuing charges against the city’s chief administrative law judge, the matter is once again moving forward, with a high-stakes trial tentatively scheduled for this summer.

Members of the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability said at a Thursday meeting that they intend to move forward with proceedings against the administrative law judge, Mary Oates Walker, and her former deputy, Kiyo Oden Tyson. The board’s investigators accused Walker and Tyson in February of multiple ethics violations, including self-dealing, contract steering and making false statements to investigators. Both women have vigorously denied the charges.

In March, Superior Court Judge Brian F. Holeman issued an injunction preventing the board from moving forward, questioning the ethics board’s jurisdiction over the matter. But a May 2 order from the D.C. Court of Appeals reversed Holeman, freeing the board to schedule a trial that could result in significant fines and bar sanctions for Walker and Tyson.

Attorneys for both of the accused appeared at the board’s meeting Thursday for the scheduling of further proceedings. While board staff sought to start the trial as soon as next month, scheduling conflicts led the board to tentatively set the proceedings for mid-July through early August.

“We obviously are interested in getting this over sooner rather than later,” board chairman Robert J. Spagnoletti said.

Walker remains on administrative leave, where she was placed in February by Mayor Vincent C. Gray, who has also moved to fire her. Gray has appointed an interim leader of the Office of Administrative Hearings, who has terminated Tyson as the agency’s general counsel.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis | May 12