City State: Sulaimon Brown challenges mailed-subpoena rule

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Sulaimon Brown, a key witness sought by a D.C. Council committee exploring Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s hiring practices, is not happy with the method used to summon him to a hearing next Friday.

Mr. Brown, a minor candidate in the 2010 mayoral race, says he was paid in cash and promised a job by Mr. Gray’s campaign team to bash incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. Mr. Brown was hired to a $110,000-per-year job and then fired after issues about his past came to light, as well as his behavior on the job.

Mary M. Cheh, chairman of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, sent him a subpoena in the mail this week after in-person efforts to serve him were not successful.

Mr. Brown — who publicly complained last month when a headline in The Washington Times lumped him among a group of people “subpoenaed,” though he had not been served and was later characterized as having “intentionally avoided” service — hit back, arguing that not only had he still not been served but that the subpoena-by-mail provision expired with older council rules.

A quick Google search proves otherwise, with D.C. Council Rules for the current Period 19 still listing the mail provision in section 613(b). The provision, contained in both the council’s rules and the committee’s rules, authorizes service of a subpoena “by registered or certified mail not less than 8 business days prior to the return date” after a reasonable attempt has been made to serve in person.

Nevertheless, Mr. Brown has indicated he will not participate in the hearings. He said public comments about him by committee members, Ms. Cheh and David A. Catania, indicate they are not impartial, so he has placed his faith in a parallel federal investigation.

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