Mayor Anthony A. Williams and the D.C. Council will go to trial over whether to fire Inspector General Charles C. Maddox now that council-approved legislation disqualifies him from his job.
D.C. Superior Court Judge John M. Campbell said yesterday in a five-page ruling that the council has standing to sue Mr. Williams based on his refusal to fire Mr. Maddox in accordance with legislation that was passed in April. The legislation — the Inspector General Qualifications Emergency Amendment Act of 2003 — disqualifies Mr. Maddox from the job.
“The vote of each of the 12 council members was completely nullified, overridden and deprived of all validity because of the mayor’s refusal to execute the law as passed by the Council,” Judge Campbell said in the ruling.
The judge has scheduled for the council and mayor to file motions for a summary judgment tomorrow and will hear oral arguments July 10.
The court action has emerged from a long-standing feud between the council and Mr. Williams over the inspector general’s performance and relationship to the mayor. Council members have accused Mr. Maddox of whitewashing investigations of the Williams administration.
“I’m pleased and excited at the judge’s ruling,” said council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, at-large Democrat. “The judge agrees that the council has standing, that we have a personal stake in our votes and that we have a right to defend our legislative actions in court. This is a major victory for the legislative process.”
Peter Lavallee, spokesman for the D.C. Corporation Counsel, which represents the city and the mayor, said the ruling was not a surprise. “It’s always hard to second-guess the courts,” he said.
Mr. Williams’ attorneys “very soon” will review the judge’s decision to decide whether to appeal, Mr. Lavallee said, possibly before tomorrow.
“But if we don’t appeal today’s ruling, we are confident on our position on the merits of the case,” Mr. Lavallee said.
Mr. Maddox declined to comment. Officials in his office said the imminent court battle has not deterred him from investigating waste, fraud and abuse in the D.C. government.
The Washington Post reported that the majority of the council voted in April for new qualifications for the inspector general, who is now required to have served seven years on the D.C. Bar and have graduated from an accredited law school.
Mr. Maddox joined the D.C. Bar in November, and his law school was not accredited when he graduated.
Mr. Williams refused to fire Mr. Maddox, citing a negative review of the legislation’s legality by interim Corporation Counsel Arabella W. Teal.
“It is appropriate for the court to evaluate this matter. In my opinion, the council legislation is an intrusion into the executive authority of the mayor, plain and simple,” Mr. Williams said in a June 2 statement. “The council does not have the authority to make appointments or to remove officials who serve at the pleasure of the mayor.”