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Introduction of the District of Columbia District Attorney Establishment Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, today, I re-introduce a bill, the District of Columbia District Attorney Establishment Act of 2013, to give District of Columbia residents another element of the self-government enjoyed by all other American citizens. The bill would establish the Office of the District Attorney for the District of Columbia, headed by a district attorney elected by D.C. residents, to prosecute major local criminal laws of the District. Under the Home Rule Act, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, a federal entity, is responsible for prosecuting major local crimes here. The bill effectuates a 2002 advisory referendum, approved by 82 percent of D.C. voters, to create an office of the district attorney, headed by a locally elected district attorney.

There is no law enforcement issue of greater importance to D.C. residents, or on which they have less say, than the prosecution of local crimes here. A U.S. attorney has no business prosecuting the local criminal laws of a jurisdiction, an anachronism that is out of place in 21st century, home-rule D.C. The goal of the legislation is to put the District on par with every other local jurisdiction on local criminal law matters. Under the bill, the locally elected district attorney would become the city's chief legal officer. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia would continue to handle federal matters, like the other U.S. attorneys in our country. As presently constituted, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia is the largest in the country, only because it serves as the local city prosecutor. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia needs to be freed up to handle national security and other vital federal cases, particularly in the post-9/11 nation's capital.

Amending the Home Rule Act to create a local district attorney would be an important step toward our goal of achieving true self-government. I urge my colleagues to support this important measure.


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