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Drug case dropped days after police detain defense attorney

Keith L. Alexander

UPDATE, Jan. 12: A D.C police spokeswoman declined to comment on this item.

District prosecutors abruptly dropped a drug possession charge against a Southeast Washington man Monday, just two days after the man and his attorney were detained while the two were out canvassing for witnesses in the man's case.

Longtime District defense attorney Lauckland Nicholas, 60, said he and his client, Norman Morris, 29, were at an apartment building in the 300 block of 50th St. NE Saturday when two D.C. police officers, guns drawn, ordered him out of his car saying they suspected the men of drug possession.

Nicholas said he was detained for about 40 minutes Saturday as he and his Ford 500 vehicle were searched. "I was very upset, nervous and shocked," Nicholas said.

Nicholas said he and his client were in the area interviewing potential witnesses ahead of a court date that was scheduled for Monday in D.C. Superior Court. Norris was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin in May.

As the trial resumed before D.C. Superior Court Judge Jennifer Anderson on Monday, Nicholas informed the judge of Saturday's incident. Anderson ordered Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth McCombs to investigate, and McCombs informed the judge that her office was dropping the May possession case against Morris an hour later.

Ben Friedman, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, acknowledged that his office had "dismissed the case" but declined to comment further.

Nicholas said the officers who detained him Saturday were potential witnesses in his client's upcoming trial.

Nicholas said he believed there were two possibilities for Saturday's stop. "They were trying to intimidate us, or they believe everyone in a drug area is trying to buy drugs, which is not the case."

A D.C. police spokeswoman was looking into Saturday's incident at press time.

-- Keith L. Alexander

By Keith L. Alexander  |  January 12, 2010; 12:01 PM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Keith L. Alexander , The District  
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