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Attorney For D.C. in Gun Ban Case Fired

Acting D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles, left, shown with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, said he wants to move the gun ban defense in a different direction.
Acting D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles, left, shown with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, said he wants to move the gun ban defense in a different direction. (By James M. Thresher -- The Washington Post)
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Describing their meeting, Morrison said Nickles asked him whether he "was part of a campaign" to discredit the Fenty administration in the news media after Singer's resignation.

"He hadn't made up his mind who would argue" the Supreme Court case, Morrison said, "but told me it was automatically disqualifying if I was part of a campaign."

Singer's chief of staff, Betsy Miller, and her spokeswoman, Melissa Merz, have resigned.

Nickles said Morrison's account of their meeting was "inaccurate." In a statement, Fenty praised Nickles but declined to address specifics about Morrison's firing.

"Peter Nickles' expertise in litigation is going to greatly benefit residents of the District of Columbia in our handgun case pending before the Supreme Court," Fenty said. "It is important that he move quickly to build a team and a strategy to maximize our chances of winning this important case."

But David C. Vladeck, a professor at Georgetown University Law School, said Morrison's departure would be a major blow to the case.

"This is a case that requires an unusual amount of preparation because one of the issues comes back to, 'What did those folks who wrote the Bill of Rights really mean when they wrote the Second Amendment?' " said Vladeck, who is friends with Morrison. "In addition to needing a good lawyer and appellate advocate, you need someone who has immersed himself in very complex historical sources. Alan has been doing that for two or three months by now. Whoever takes over this case will start many, many, many laps behind where we ought to be."


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