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A suit filed by 10 attorneys who objected to a system that restricts the number of lawyers who can represent indigent defendants in D.C. Superior Court’s Family Court was dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which found that the lawyers “have �no property interest’ in their �specialty practice’ in the Family Court.” The appeals court also said the administrative order that created the new selection process “resulted in no unlawful �takings.’ ” The June 9 opinion was written by Senior Judge Harry Edwards for a three-judge panel that included Judges David Sentelle and Janice Rogers Brown. The attorneys had sued Superior Court Chief Judge Rufus King III, along with 14 other judges and the Public Defender Service, after the court adopted a new policy in 2003. At the time, a judicial committee reviewed applications and selected 200 attorneys who could receive appointments in the Family Court. Prior to that time, any licensed attorney was eligible to take cases. The dismissal reversed an earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina, who last year allowed the case to proceed. David Sitomer, one of the attorneys who brought the suit, calls the decision “a slam duck,” saying that in dismissing the case the court avoided addressing the main issues. He says the attorneys are planning to file a cert petition with the Supreme Court. Leah Gurowitz, a court spokeswoman, says, “The decision speaks for itself.”
Bethany Broida can be contacted at [email protected].

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