PDF version of the above document 01/05/99
Howell Objects to Narrow Time Limits on Megan's Law Testimony
Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013-5265
August 23, 1999
The Honorable Harold Brazil
Committee on the Judiciary
Council of the District of Columbia
441 4th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
I am writing to ask you to expand the time limits for witnesses intending to testify on Bill 13-350, the Sex Offenders Registration Act of 1999, at your committee’s public hearing at 2 p.m. on October 7.
According to the announcement in the August 13 issue of the D.C. Register, individuals will have two minutes to present oral testimony, and panels are given 5 minutes.
These time limits are counter-productive and unfair. Bill 13-350 is a very complex piece of legislation, and we expect to be recommending several amendments. We can not adequately present the rationales for our various amendments within the limits you have proposed.
Our experience shows that government witnesses typically consume large chunks of time whenever they appear before Council committees. Providing government witnesses virtually unlimited time to present their case, while severely restricting the time available for public witnesses, results in a very one-sided presentation. Please do not tell us that witnesses are free to present written testimony of any length for the committee members to read. These hearings are televised to the public, and the public should be able to hear non-governmental witnesses present their testimony as fully as possible.
To paraphrase a famous statement, we taxpayers paid for those microphones.
We accordingly request that individuals be allotted 5 minutes for their presentations and that groups be given up to 10 minutes. If you fear that you could not complete the hearing on the afternoon of October 7, we urge you to reschedule the hearing for some morning when there will be time to hear all witnesses before the day is out.
Thank you for your consideration.
cc: Councilmember Sharon Ambrose
Councilmember Kevin Chavous
Councilmember Jack Evans
Councilmember Vincent Orange
ACLU/National Capital Area
Public Defender Service
[Note: In response to this letter, Councilmember Brazil and his staff informed GLAA and the ACLU that they would be given "all the time you need" for their testimony. The hearing was rescheduled for October 14.]