A group of lawyers on strike at D.C. Superior Court voted yesterday to ask the head of the D.C. Bar Association to mediate their dispute with some judges on the court.
At a noon meeting, 43 members of the 160-member D.C. Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association voted to invite attorney Stephen J. Pollak to talk with court officials as mediator.
Mr. Pollak is the president of an association that represents 30,000 lawyers," said William Blair, president of the Trial Lawyers Association. "We believe his presence will ensure a legitimate negotiation process with the chief judge."
The lawyers said Pollak had agreed to fill the job, but he was unavailable for comment.
The lawyers agreed yesterday to continue their 5-day-old strike until Pollak has met with Chief Judge H. Carl Moultrie I and a yet-to-be-named negotiating team from the trial lawyers group.
To press their case, the trial lawyers have not accepted any new cases involving indigents. So far, only a half-dozen private attorneys and several Public Defender Service lawyers have been available each day to take new cases.
The attorneys went on strike last Friday to protest against several judges who recently held attorneys in contempt of court for being late for trials.
While most judges have resorted only to stern warnings and modest fines for tardiness, Judge Tim Murphy in recent weeks has sentenced two attorneys to jail for being late.
In a memorandum to Moultrie Wednesday, the lawyers listed four demands, including a request that Murphy be moved out of the court's criminal trial division "for a cooling-off period.
In addition, the lawyers demanded that they not be sent to jail or given contempt citations for tardiness and that the court devise a central call-in system so lawyers can report where they are when they move from one courtroom to another to handle scheduled cases.