D.C. Fires Its Gun Lawyer:

Tony Mauro reports on an interesting development in the District of Columbia v. Heller, the pending Second Amendment case before the Supreme Court. Despite his work on the District's primary brief, Alan Morrison has been fired by the city, apparently because he was seen as a "loyalist" of ousted D.C. attorney Linda Singer. Morrison is an excellent lawyer, so I find the District's actions hard to fathom — but I suppose it's also a bit of bizarre good news for the gun rights side in the case. (Hat tip: How Appealing.)

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports here.

Cornellian (mail):
Sometimes decisions get made for reasons like these. It's not always about big political issues.
1.2.2008 1:31pm
Ted Frank (www):
Is it really going to hurt the case if one of the two big law firms doing pro bono work to restrict individual rights argues the case instead of Morrison? It's not like they'll have trouble finding a true believer.
1.2.2008 1:53pm
AntonK (mail):
You meant to say:

...but I suppose it's also a bit of bizarre good news for the gun rights American people's and Constitution's side in the case.
1.2.2008 2:25pm
Will this mean they'll seek a continuance on DC's brief (due Friday)?
1.2.2008 2:25pm
Vinnie (mail):
Well only one side side showed up in Miller.
1.2.2008 2:28pm
With briefs due soon, could someone comment on the effect of this on the caes for DC? To what extent will the oral argument lawyer be constrained by the argument of the brief author?
1.2.2008 2:30pm

Well only one side side showed up in Miller.

Well that may be because Miller was a case manufactured by the government as an expedient for imposing federal gun control.
1.2.2008 3:00pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Will this mean they'll seek a continuance on DC's brief (due Friday)?

I'd doubt it. Their brief is probably already at the printers'. Which may leave Morrison ticked off. He writes the brief, sends it off, and they wait until then to say clean out your desk.

Also, to ask for a continuance they'd have to come up with more than "we decided to sack our guy, despite his competence, for reasons of internal politics, at the last minute."
1.2.2008 3:27pm
Ted Frank:

Considering Morrison's Supreme Court record compared to Delliger or Goldstein, this will probably help.
1.2.2008 3:47pm
Dave D. (mail):

...Then again, it may have been because Miller had assumed room temperature.
1.2.2008 4:32pm
Dave D.
Not quite, according to the timeline, oral arguments were heard March 30, 1939, Miller was shot to death April 4, 1939, the decision was handed down May 15, 1939.

Miller was alive, but not present of course, for the hearing, and was indeed dead when the decision was handed down. If the government hadn't confiscated his sawed off shotgun, he may have been able to survive at least until the decision was handed down. Another innocent victim of gun control.
1.2.2008 6:17pm
Kent Scheidegger (mail) (www):
Looks like one more confirmation that the District is a governmental basket case. Not that any more was needed.

Cede it back to Maryland. The 1787 reasons for having a separate federal district no longer apply.
1.2.2008 6:25pm
Al Norris (mail):
Sorry Kazinsky, Miller was hardly a poster boy for the gun community.
1.2.2008 6:31pm
Al Norris:
Anybody that read the article I linked would realize that my statment, "Another innocent victim of gun control." was a little sarcastic. It was kind of a take off on the old SNL ex-police skit where Ackroid and Murray would break into a house looking for drugs, kill the residents and then regret "another drug related death".

But just because Miller was no choir boy is no reason to keep the citizens of DC from lawfully owning guns.
1.2.2008 7:34pm
geekWithA.45 (mail) (www):
To the point, however: Miller had no representation.

Repeat, the .gov was the only appearance, either in brief or argument, for miller.

When I asked David Hardy if one sided representation was common back then, he related the tale to me like this:


Procedures in Miller were VERY strange to modern eyes. Dunno if they were in 1939. I forget the exact timing, but .... today you've got 90 or 120 days to file petition for cert., if granted another 90 or so days for first brief, same for next, then a reply, then oral argument. Whole thing takes 9 months or so, sometimes more.

In Miller's case, the atty is sitting out there in OKL, and out of the blue comes a letter from the Sup Ct. clerk telling him case is set for argument in, I forget, 3 or 5 weeks, and he better get his brief in ASAP. THink the clerk sent the letter like 9 days after cert. was granted. It probably took the better part of a week to get to the atty.

What the hell, he writes back -- I haven't even gotten the gov't's brief yet! (Remember also this is 1939. No FedEx, air travel too expensive, so he's being told to brief it in a matter of days and take the train). Clerk writes back that at end of term time limits are tight, full time for briefing is not available, and argument is not delayed for that reason.

He telegraphs back he can't find money to brief or argue, so take it as submitted on gov't brief.

1.2.2008 10:55pm
Yea, and this great case of true Justice and good legal representation is what liberal politicians and high brow law professors chant like chilren. It is settled LAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWW. It is settled LLLAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWW that there is NO individual right to own firearms.
1.3.2008 12:27am
Dave Hardy:

Also, to ask for a continuance they'd have to come up with more than "we decided to sack our guy, despite his competence, for reasons of internal politics, at the last minute."

Couldn't they just lie? ;^)
1.3.2008 4:38pm
Wondering Willy:
Where is D.C.'s brief? It was supposedly due yesterday, according to the WaPo story, yet it's not apparently been filed according to the SCOTUS docket (which admittedly may not yet have been updated):
1.6.2008 4:31am
Thomas R. (mail):
Fantabulous !!! Just as their brief is due to SCOTUS, and a few months before oral arguments are scheduled. All of the local news stories about this ran once and never mentioned it again. They say it's because of fallout between the recently forced-out DC Atty General and the Mayor's general counsel. While that is partly true, the inside word is that there clearly is trouble in gun-free paradise.

After DC originally filed their petition for the SCOTUS to hear this case, Alan Gura (atty. for Heller) completely nuked their petition with his brilliant response. Now DC is supposed to respond to him, and the word is: it's not going so well.

True to typical DC government form, it appears they are botching it up, as they do everyday on a myriad of things. Usually the DC AG's office goes after easy targets like sueing bars over smoking bans, and landlords to clean up lead-based paint, that sort of thing...and if they botch those kinds of cases, well who cares, only the little people of DC pay the price. But this is the first time in a LONG time, that their office is handling a case with profound Constitutional implications for the entire US, and they are getting BIG pressure from the other lib states who joined them (NY,MD,HI) not to screw it up like they do everything else they handle.

I think that the new young Mayor of DC sees what's happening and knows that a defeat in this case would be hung around HIS neck. So he and his own general counsel are trying to micro-manage the case, so he got rid of his own AG that he appointed only 7 months ago, her entire staff, and now the otherwise competent attorney who was working on this case.

Keep rubbing your lucky rabbit's feet, boys !!!
1.7.2008 11:19am