Ex-Justice Lawyer Alleges Bias for Black Defendants

Thursday, 08 Jul 2010 04:14 PM

By Dan Weil

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J. Christian Adams, a former civil rights attorney at the Justice Department, says the department told attorneys in the civil rights division to ignore cases involving black defendants and white victims.

His comments came in testimony Tuesday before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and were reported by FoxNews.com.

"Over and over and over again" the department showed "hostility" toward those cases, Adams said.

He quit the department over its handling of a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party.

The case surrounded an incident in Philadelphia on Election Day 2008, when party members were filmed in front of a polling place, dressed in military-style uniforms and allegedly shouting racial slurs. One participant had a nightstick. 

The Bush Justice Department prosecuted the first case against three members of the group on charges of violating the Voting Rights Act.

At first the Obama administration continued the case, winning a default judgment in federal court in April 2009 when the New Black Panther Party members didn’t show up in court.

But a month later the White House moved to dismiss charges after one of the New Black Panther Party members agreed to not carry a "deadly weapon" near a polling place before 2012. 

A Justice spokesman said in a statement Tuesday that the civil rights division concluded "the facts and the law did not support pursuing claims" against the two other defendants.

In his testimony, Adams said his "blood boiled" upon hearing a Justice official argue that the case wasn’t solid.
"It is false," Adams said of the claim. "We abetted wrongdoing and abandoned law-abiding citizens."

The department's hostility toward other cases involving black defendants was "pervasive," he said.

Adams said he saw "indications" that the New Black Panther Party was doing the "same thing" –intimidation – to supporters of then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary season in early 2008.

In another racial controversy, both Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who is black, and the white Cambridge, Mass., police sergeant who arrested him last July missed opportunities to defuse an avoidable confrontation, according to a report issued last week by the Cambridge Review Committee.

The incident sparked nationwide discussion about race relations.

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