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Missing one deadline might be excusable. But after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia asked for a second extension to respond to an appeal from a convicted drug dealer, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina had had enough. The office, he wrote in a Jan. 5 filing, “has demonstrated a lack of due diligence.” The latest delay came Jan. 4, when Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Chriss filed a notice to replace Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Riddell as prosecutor and, because she had been out of the office over the holidays, asked for a 60-day extension — three times the usual time period. “A request for additional time to respond to an order of the court due to a single AUSA’s vacation schedule warrants presumptively negative scrutiny,” Urbina wrote. “Perhaps, like Douglas Adams, who once stated, �I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by,’ lawyers are sometimes more enthralled by the passing rather than the keeping of court-imposed time constraints.” Urbina ordered the government to show cause or face sanctions. In a filing Jan. 12, the government attributed the problems to bureaucratic confusion and said officials had taken steps to ensure they will not be repeated. “The court may have been left with the misimpression that counsel was more interested in her vacation time rather than in complying with deadlines,” the government wrote. “This is not so.”
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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