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A brief filed Jan. 4 by the District of Columbia in the historic gun control case District of Columbia v. Heller is an instant collector’s item. It lists Linda Singer as the District’s Attorney General and Alan Morrison as her special counsel, yet both titles were obsolete before the weekend was out. Friday was Singer’s last day, and Morrison was told to vacate his office before Jan. 7. Morrison left a Stanford University Law School teaching job last summer to work with Singer and soon found the case of a lifetime in his lap. The gun case marks the first time in nearly 70 years the Court will try to interpret the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.” Morrison’s dream assignment began to unravel after Singer announced Dec. 17 that she was resigning, complaining of interference by Peter Nickles, Mayor Adrian Fenty’s general counsel. Nickles called Morrison in on Dec. 21 to discuss the case. But Morrison says that Nickles turned the conversation toward loyalty to the Fenty administration, given that Singer hired Morrison, and that Morrison gave assurances but got pink-slipped anyway. Nickles disputes the account. Morrison protested his firing loudly, and within hours, his one-time boss Ralph Nader fired off a letter urging Fenty to sack Nickles instead. “Did he think I would go away quietly?” Morrison asks. On Friday, Nickles announced that former Acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger III will argue the case pro bono instead of Morrison, with the aid of Thomas Goldstein of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Both worked on the city’s brief. Robert Long of Covington & Burling, Nickles’ old firm, will also pitch in. Dellinger, head of O’Melveny & Myers’ appellate practice, says he will reach out to Morrison for advice. A dubious Morrison replied, “If asked, I will serve.”
Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected].

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