[Guest post by DRJ]
The Philadelphia Black Panther voter intimidation case — a case the Department of Justice won by default in April, only to dismiss in May — is heating up. Earlier posts on this topic are here, here, here and here, and here is a summary of the initial legal action, including the unexpected dismissal of the case by Obama political appointees:
“Records show that the Justice Department attorneys, led by Christopher Coates, chief of the voting rights section, decided as early as Dec. 22, 2008, to seek charges against the New Black Panther Party and three of its members.
The decision to dismiss the complaint came after a delay in the case was ordered by then-Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King after an April 2009 meeting with Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, the department’s No. 3 political appointee, according to interviews with lawyers familiar with the case.
At the time, the career attorneys had recommended that the department seek sanctions against the defendants because the government had already won a default judgment in the case. The attorneys were in the final stages of completing that work when they were told to seek the delay, according to federal records and interviews with the same lawyers familiar with the case.”
The Civil Rights Commission, led by Republican appointees, opened an investigation of the dismissal but the DOJ has thus far refused to respond. The Commission subsequently issued subpoenas to at least two DOJ attorneys — Coates and J. Christian Adams, the lead attorney in the Black Panther case.
The Attorney General’s office reportedly refused to allow the DOJ attorneys to comply with the subpoenas. Adams, who is conservative, hired counsel to contest the refusal, claiming it exposed him to criminal or contempt sanctions for failure to comply with a lawful subpoena. Adams’ attorney asked the DOJ to permit Adams to comply with the subpoena or to issue an order prohibiting his compliance. It appears from the articles that the DOJ had not previously issued an order directing the attorneys not to comply with the subpoena, but it may have done so recently.
Liberal website Talking Points Memo criticized Adams as a Bush loyalist and claims his actions show “the fight to end the Bushies’ politicization of the Department of Justice continues.” I think TPM has it backwards.