Peter J. Nickles
Peter J. Nickles will join the Fenty Administration and
serve as general counsel to the mayor, bringing decades of expertise in
pubic service law.
An attorney since 1964, today, Nickles is a senior
litigation partner at Covington and Burling. Throughout his career, he
untiringly fought for the rights of poor and disadvantaged persons
through social, institutional and political reform. Nickles' commitment
to public service dates back to his early days as a lawyer when he was
counsel to the Jackson State Force and the Kent State Force, reporting
to the Scranton Commission on Campus Unrest from 1968-1970. From
1970-1975, he co-chaired Covington's program at Neighborhood Legal
Services Program (NLSP) in Washington, DC. And from 1980-1992, he served
as an adjunct professor at Howard University.
Protecting the rights of the District's most marginalized
citizens is what Nickles is most passionate about. As class counsel in
Dixon v. Barry, filed in 1974, he helped secure significant relief for
thousands of homeless and mentally retarded residents of the District of
Columbia. This case, which required nearly 30 years of litigation,
resulted in the creation of community-based services for persons with
With an abiding interest in the rights of prisoners,
Nickles, in Twelve John Does v. District of Columbia and in John Doe v.
District of Columbia, was appointed by the United States District Court
to represent all of the prisoners confined to the District of Columbia's
Central and Maximum Security Facilities regarding a plethora of
unconstitutional conditions. In Inmates of the Modular Facility v.
District of Columbia, he skillfully negotiated an effective Consent
Decree designed to cure constitutional deficiencies in security, health
care, sanitation, and fire safety. In Women Prisoners v. District of
Columbia, a class-action litigation brought on behalf of the District's
women prisoners, he won an injunction requiring the District of Columbia
to provide adequate reproductive health care, to take steps to prevent
sexual abuse, harassment and other relief. Under his leadership, these
cases have been instrumental in reducing violence, alleviating
overcrowding and improving Medicaid and mental health services for
prisoners in the District of Columbia.
When the Washingtonian named Nickles one of Washington's
50 Best Lawyers, the magazine wrote: "What distinguishes Nickles
from other corporate lawyers is that he probably gives away more hours
to good causes than anyone in town." He has donated hundreds of
thousands of dollars in attorney's fees to charity.
For his unrelenting years of public service, the District
of Columbia Bar Association presented Nickles with the Pro Bono Service
Award in May 1998.