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Criticism of the D.C. Court of Appeals for taking years to issue opinions is an open secret, but it’s uncommon for a D.C. Superior Court judge to get hit with the same rap. At a three-minute hearing last week, Superior Court Judge Mary Terrell delivered her opinion on a termination appeal from Carl Chase, former deputy chief of the D.C. Public Defender Service’s Criminal Justice Act Office. Terrell took more than two years to issue her five-page order, which affirmed the dismissal of Chase’s case by an administrative judge at the D.C. Office of Employee Appeals. After 24 years of service, Chase was fired in 2001 for insubordination, discourteous treatment of the public, poor attendance, and failing to maintain his notary commission, resulting in a loss of his pension and other benefits. A 2003 OEA decision dismissed Chase’s appeal because Chase was an “excepted employee” and Congress had removed the Public Defender Service from D.C. personnel jurisdiction in 1997. Chase declined to comment on Terrell’s ruling, but his lawyer, Michael Lasley, says Terrell did not analyze his legal arguments and simply affirmed the OEA decision. “I would think a more definitive analysis would have been made after that time period,” Lasley says. “The tragedy of it is, we have another extended appellate process to go through to have these questions answered.”
Brendan Smith can be contacted at [email protected].

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