For the second day, trial lawyers who are paid by the city to represent poor people in D.C. Superior Court yesterday refused to take assignments to new cases.
Only five attorneys who regularly take court appointments signed up for the 39 new cases that entered the court system yesterday. Ten other persons, including law students and attorneys from major firms who have agreed to take the cases of indigent defendants, also signed up.
The trial attorneys, who are paid by the Criminal Justice Act Program to represent poor defendants, decided last Friday not to take new cases this week in protest of a list of "inadequate lawyers" that six judges began circulating in the court last week.
The lawyers also have complained that they have been barred from the court's law library and that most of them have not received pay checks for last month.
William Blair, vice president of the Superior Court Trail Lawyers Association, said yesterday that lawyers in the group generally agree that incompetent attorneys should not be allowed to practice in the court.
"But we believe that if a lawyer is going to be identified on a list as incompetent, the court should give him the courtesy of due process and provide an opportunity for this lawyer to respond," Blair said.