The District of Columbia City Council yesterday defeated a proposal by Democratic Councilman Tommy Wells to transfer the powers of the U.S. attorney’s office to an elected district attorney, the Washington Post reported.
The action came as the council was debating whether the District should have an elected attorney general, instead of one appointed by the mayor, as is now the case.
The council approved that proposal, 12-1, but it still must win the approval of Mayor Adrian Fenty. And, Congress would have to amend the District’s home rule charter.
During consideration of the attorney general proposal, Wells offered an amendment, defeated 3-10, to leave the attorney general’s status untouched, but rather transfer authority for prosecuting local crimes to a local district attorney.
The District’s non-voting delegate in Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, has introduced legislation to establish a local district attorney in each of the last four Congresses, but has not been successful.
The effort follows a 2002 referendum in which District residents voted to establish a locally elected D.A. Currently, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia prosecutes local crimes – from burglaries to murders. .