Two lawyers fired from the D.C. corporation counsel's office amid a crackdown on traffic ticket cancellations there have said it was standard office practice to dispose of tickets for fellow employes.
"Since time immemorial every assistant in the Law Enforcement Division (of the corporation counsel's office) has been allowed, and indeed urged, to adjust citations against fellow employes," one of the lawyers, Victor O. Frazer, said in a letter to Corporation Counsel John R. Risher Jr.
The second lawyer, C.B. Jones, has argued that before new rules were established in September for adjustment of tickets issued to employes, there was no policy on processing traffic tickets.
"Indeed, I was left to learn the standards from my fellow assistants and supervisors," Jones said, in a letter to Risher.
Both lawyers were dismissed early this month because, the corporation counsel's office said, they refused to pay $1,605 in traffic fines for tickets canceled by the two men or by others at their request.
Both contend they acted within their discretion and strongly deny they induced anyone to cancel tickets for them.
The letters written by Frazer and Jones and other documents relating to Risher's decision to fire the two men were released to The Washington Post yesterday following a request filed under the District's Freedom of Information Act.
Risher acknowledged there had been a problem within the corporation counsel's office with ticket cancellations, the records indicate. He called Frazer's contention that he was not the only attorney in the office who canceled tickets "a general statement of the obvious."
But, he said, at no time did the corporation counsel's office authorize such practices, even though there was no written policy until September.
As to Jones' claim that he learned the standards from coworkers, Risher said, that does not support a claim that Jones was "authorized to use the public streets in violation of the very regulations that the corporation counsel and every assistant of his has both an ethical and legal duty to enforce."
According to the records, between June 1975 and August 1977, Frazer dismissed two tickets issued to his car, dismissed 79 tickets issued to other employes in his office and induced other personnel of the office to dismiss 144 traffice citation violations" issued to vehicles registered to Frazer. The money owed on the tickets canceled by or for Frazer was $1,180, the records said.
Deputy Corporation Counsel Geoffrey M. Alprin said in a letter to Frazer in March that Frazer violated his "legal and fiduciary duties" as an attorney and "frequently abused your discretion in the conduct of your officil duties."
In the letter, Alphrin said Frazer had been charged with misconduct, that it was proposed that be fired and that the money owed be deducted from any severance pay.
According to a letter Alprin wrote to Jones dismissed 75 tickets issued to cars owned by coworkers and "induced" other office personnel to dismiss 54 tickets issued to Jones' vehicles.
Alprin said in the letter that Jones was also charged with misconduct and abuse of his discretion as an assistant corporation counsel.
In response to Alprin, Frazer disputed the claim that the tickets were "wrongfully dismissed" and strongly denied that he had induced anyone to take action in his behalf.
Frazer contended he has "strictly adhered" to new rules for cancellation of tickets - implemented in September - and denied that the cancellation of any of the tickets was "improper" or that he was guilty of "misconduct."
Prior to the new rules, there was no office policy for cancellation of tickets issued to fellow emplyes, Frazer said, and nothing to indicate that such use of an attorney's discretion was "a wrongful offense or misconduct."
Frazer said he was being fired because he refused to pay a fine that he considered "unjust."
According to the records, Jones dismissed 75 tickets issued to vehicles registered to coworkers between June 1975 and August of last year, and also "induced" other office workers to dismiss 54 traffic violations issued to Jones' car. As a result, the records said, Jones owes the city $425 in fines.
In his response, Jones said the question of whether he abused his discretion "is dependent upon what is expected conduct in the administering of the laws." Without written guidelines, Jones said he followed the example of other employes and denied he had induced anyone to cancel tickets.
Frazer indicated in the records that the information about traffic ticket cancellations surfaced after the corporation counsel's office began in investigation into cases in which District residents with 25 or more traffic tickets had them dismissed.
In March, it was disclosed that five lawyers, who were or had been employed in the Law Enforcement Division, owed traffic fines. Three of the lawyers paid the money due; Frazer and Jones refused and were then fired.
In the documents released yesterday, Risher said that most of the traffic tickets issued to Jones and Frazer were for parking violations around D.C. Superior Court, where the Law Enforcement Division is located. He noted however that 11 tickets issued to Jones and 33 issued to Frazer were for violations during off-duty hours at locations far removed from the courthouse.