Lawyer Alleges Racial Bias In Decision To Drop New Black Panther Case
July 13, 2010 by Special To Personal Liberty
A former Justice Department attorney made waves last week, accusing top officials of abandoning a voter intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party because they were hesitant to prosecute African American defendants in a civil rights trial.
J. Christian Adams, who resigned his post to protest the decision to drop the case, told members of the United States Commission on Civil Rights that an Obama appointee—Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli—overruled six attorneys who recommended that the department continue to pursue the case, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The investigation stemmed from an Election Day incident in Philadelphia where three members of the New Black Panther Party allegedly intimidated voters by wearing military-style garb and shouting racial slurs. One of the suspects was even caught on video menacingly pointing a baton at prospective voters.
Four months after filing a civil lawsuit against the men—and one month after the suspects failed to show up in court to face the accusations—the Justice Department dropped the charges against the party and the men not carrying the baton. The third man had the charges dismissed after agreeing not to carry a weapon near a polling facility until 2012.
"We abetted wrongdoing and abandoned law-abiding citizens," Adams said of the decision to drop the case that he helped build.
A Justice Department official later denied Adams’ accusations, stating that "the facts and the law did not support pursuing claims" against the three men.