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Just after 11 a.m. last Wednesday, Rabbi Bruce Kahn, executive director of the Equal Rights Center, stood in a conference room at the Dupont Circle offices of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs to proclaim what he called a “historic settlement.” Lawyers from the center, the committee, and Howrey had reached a settlement in a landmark disability rights suit with Washington Hospital Center over the hospital’s treatment of wheelchair-bound patients. But there were only two reporters in the room to hear the details. In fact, the Lawyers’ Committee had been upstaged by a simultaneous press conference being held just a few hundred yards away on the other side of Dupont Circle by . . . the Lawyers’ Committee. There, in a packed conference room complete with TV cameras and a live feed, another group of attorneys from the Lawyers’ Committee and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld announced the filing of a “major civil rights action” on behalf of 32 residents of Hunter’s Brooke in Charles County, Md., who were victims of what the lawyers say was a racially motivated arson. The dueling press conferences were the result of one group making press conference arrangements without centralizing it, says Da’aga Hill Bowman, director of foundation outreach and public information for the Lawyers’ Committee. It was a scheduling glitch, she says, “that will never happen again.”
Bethany Broida can be contacted at [email protected].

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