By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 13, 2009; B08
D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles acknowledged Wednesday that District lawyers made "serious errors" while defending against two lawsuits brought by nearly 400 people arrested during a 2002 protest in downtown Washington.
The comments came in a lengthy affidavit filed in response to an order issued last month by a federal judge frustrated with the D.C. government's handling of evidence in the case. Some records, including key reports and sections of dispatch tapes, have vanished. Attorneys for the protesters accuse D.C. officials of destroying the records.
Nickles added that he was working to settle the lawsuits, which were brought by nearly 400 protesters and bystanders arrested without warning while they demonstrated at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on Sept. 27, 2002.
Nickles said he was launching an internal investigation into the evidence lapses and the delays in turning over many records to the protesters' attorneys. He said the mistakes "are inexcusable and should not have occurred."
D.C. government attorneys "made serious errors in managing and producing documents," he said.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney for the protesters, said the filing was "inadequate."
"This affidavit makes clear that an independent prosecutor needs to investigate the conduct of the District government," she said.