- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The District’s acting attorney general has fired the lead lawyer scheduled to argue before the Supreme Court in favor of the city’s gun ban.

Peter J. Nickles, whose controlling style as Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s general counsel was thought to be responsible for the resignation of Attorney General Linda Singer two weeks ago, fired Alan B. Morrison just days before the city is expected to submit its brief in the gun case to the high court.

Mr. Morrison, the former director of the D.C.-based Public Citizen Litigation Group, was hired by Mrs. Singer last year as a special counsel to argue the gun ban case, District of Columbia v. Heller. He has argued cases 20 times before the Supreme Court.

Mrs. Singer resigned Dec. 17 amid reports that she was frustrated with Mr. Nickles’ intrusions on the duties of her office.

Mr. Morrison met with Mr. Nickles two weeks ago and was informed that he had been let go Friday through an e-mail from Deputy Attorney General Eugene Adams.

“In keeping with recent developments, I’ve been asked to tell you that Peter has decided that he will not be relying on you to make the Heller argument before the Supreme Court,” Mr. Adams wrote. “It’s a decision he’s been wrestling with since you met with him last week. He thought it only fair that you be informed sooner rather than later.”

Mr. Morrison’s dismissal drew criticism from some D.C. Council members. Mary Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, said she had heard rumors that Mr. Morrison might be let go but was unaware of the decision until she was informed of the firing by a reporter from The Washington Times.

“I hope it’s not just the new person coming in and cleaning house of people he didn’t bring in,” Mrs. Cheh said. “On its face, it seems like a bad move.”

In a statement, Mr. Fenty did not specifically address Mr. Morrison’s departure but said that Mr. Nickles’ “expertise in litigation is going to greatly benefit residents of the District of Columbia in our handgun case pending before the Supreme Court.”

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