Judge Denies Injunction, Clears Way for Vote Certification Next Wk. <br> Activists Call On Mayor to Drop Lawsuit and Support Measure 62
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 15 -- Superior Court Judge Jeanette J. Clark today denied the Washington, D.C., Corporation Counsel's request for a Temporary Restraining Order against Measure 62, in a lawsuit initiated by the administration of Mayor Anthony Williams. The ruling clears the way for the District's Board of Elections and Ethics to certify the overwhelming victory of Measure 62, which received a reported 78% of the vote Nov. 5.
"DC's voters have been victorious at the ballot box, and now in the courtroom, concerning treatment instead of jail," said Opio Sokoni, Implementation Coordinator for the DC Campaign for Treatment, which sponsored the measure. "It's time for the mayor to drop his suit, uphold the voters' will, and work with us to ensure that low-level drug offenders in the District receive treatment."
The mayor and Corporation Counsel had objected that Measure 62 impermissibly required the District to allocate and expend funds for treatment for nonviolent drug users who qualify under the proposal.
In making the ruling, Judge Clark questioned whether the District could prevail on its claim that the initiative was an improper subject, that she did not see any irreparable harm to the District from certification, and that it was not in the public interest to keep the Board from certifying the vote.
"The District, indeed the entire nation, has been incarcerating too many low-level non-violent drug users. This initiative will ensure that they receive the treatment that they need while helping them to stay in the community with their families," said Bill McColl, President of the D.C. Campaign for Treatment, "District voters know this, they voted for it in record numbers. We're ready to work with the Mayor, the District Council, Representative Norton, Congress, the DC court system, District residents and anyone else to implement this initiative."
Some time next week, the Board of Elections and Ethics will certify the election results, and transmit the measure to the District Council. The Chair of the District Council later transmits the initiative to Congress, which then has 30 working days to disapprove the initiative - or to let it become law.
If implemented, Measure 62 will require judges to allow eligible non-violent drug defendants to be placed in treatment instead of incarceration or conviction. Defendants charged with Schedule I drug offenses are not eligible (including heroin, marijuana, and LSD) because sponsors of the initiative sought to avoid a conflict with Congress over the so-called "Barr amendment," a federal law that keeps the District from lowering penalties for Schedule I drugs.