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Washington v. United States

Court of Appeals of The District of Columbia

April 25, 2019

Antonin Washington, Appellant,
v.
United States, Appellee.

          Argued April 4, 2019

          Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CMD-13858-83) (Hon. Steven Wellner, Trial Judge)

          Adrian Madsen for appellant.

          Elizabeth Aloi, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Jessie K. Liu, United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, Nicholas P. Coleman, T. Anthony Quinn, and Jillian D. Willis, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

          Before Glickman and Thompson, Associate Judges, and Washington, Senior Judge.

          Thompson, Associate Judge.

         Through legislation enacted in 2014, the Council of the District of Columbia (the "Council") "decriminalized the possession of . . . marijuana for personal use."[1] In 2015, the Council enacted legislation entitled "Record Sealing for Decriminalized and Legalized Offenses Act of 2014," codified as D.C. Code § 16-803.02 (2017).

         In 1983, appellant, Antonin Washington, was charged with two counts of possession of marijuana and two counts of possession of phencyclidine (PCP). Mr. Washington pled guilty to one count of possession of PCP; Superior Court records indicate that the disposition of the marijuana counts and one of the PCP counts was nolle prosequi. On May 4, 2017, relying on § 16-803.02, Mr. Washington filed a motion to seal the publicly available records of his "arrests and related court proceedings" in the 1983 matter (as well as records in matters from other years not involved in this appeal). In an August 29, 2017, order, the Superior Court denied the motion, stating that "[p]ossession of PCP is not a decriminalized or legalized offense" and therefore that Mr. Washington could not "avail himself of relief under . . . § 16-803.02 . . . ." The court did not address whether to grant Mr. Washington a part of the relief he sought by sealing the records of his accompanying marijuana-possession charges.

         This appeal followed. We affirm the Superior Court's ruling insofar as it denied sealing of the records of Mr. Washington's PCP arrest, charges, and conviction. However, we remand for the Superior Court to consider whether to seal the records relating to Mr. Washington's accompanying arrest and charges for marijuana possession.

         I.

         Section 16-803.02 (2017) provides in pertinent part as follows:

(a) A person arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a criminal offense pursuant to the District of Columbia Official Code or the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations that was decriminalized or legalized after the date of the arrest, charge, or conviction may file a motion to seal the record of the arrest, charge, conviction, and related Superior Court proceedings at any time.
(1)
(A) The Superior Court shall grant a motion to ...

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