Toomey: Deny Justice Nomination to Cop Killer's Lawyer

Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014 12:32 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Sen. Pat Toomey has urged the Senate not to confirm the nomination of lawyer Debo Adegbile as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's civil rights division over his support for convicted Philadelphia cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, has joined forces with R. Seth Williams, the district attorney of Philadelphia, to fight Adegbile’s nomination. In a commentary piece in The Wall Street Journal, they said that "his unconscionable record in the Abu-Jamal case" should disqualify him from the appointment.

They wrote that Adegbile used the high-profile race case as a political platform to launch an "extreme attack" on the justice system. "When a lawyer chooses that course, it is appropriate to ask whether he should be singled out for a high-level national position in, of all things, law enforcement," the pair wrote.

In 1981, as a leading supporter of the racist and anarchist MOVE movement founded in Philadelphia in 1972, Abu-Jamal fatally shot Philadelphia police officer David Faulkner. Right after the killing, he confessed he was the gunman and told three witnesses that he hoped the officer died, Toomey and Williams wrote.

Abu-Jamal created mayhem in court with constant interruptions while also abusing the judge and making disparaging remarks to the officer’s widow, Toomey and Williams wrote.

After Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death, Abu-Jamal continued in his attempts to antagonize the justice system while also trying to portray himself as the unfortunate victim of a racist police plot, the senator and district attorney wrote.

The pair wrote it was with this background that Adegbile threw himself into the fray in his position as acting president and director of litigation at the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund.

Through his leadership, Adegbile "fanned the racial firestorm" while alleging that the cop killer was "a symbol of the racial injustices of the death penalty," the two wrote.

Eventually, the Legal Defense Fund could trumpet the fact that Abu-Jamal’s sentence was commuted to life in prison. Even then, the legal aid group continued to research the case to overturn his conviction.

"It is disturbing that Debo Adegbile — a man with impressive credentials but an unconscionable record in the Abu-Jamal case — is poised to become the next assistant attorney general to lead the civil rights division," Toomey and Williams wrote.

Adegbile in 2011 was nominated to join the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but months later his nomination was suddenly withdrawn, Toomey and Williams wrote.

"That would be the best course here," they added. "Mr. Adegbile is not suited to serve in this sensitive position."

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