In January 2011, under the leadership of President Obama's current nominee to head the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, Debo Adegbile, attorneys from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund voluntarily took over the case of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal was convicted in 1982 of murdering Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulker, and he was given the death penalty. His conviction has been held up in multiple court rulings over the past three decades.
"There are two wonderful attorneys taking over Mumia's case in the 30th year of his incarceration when most lawyers don't come near cases number one on death row, number two, that have gone through everything up to the Supreme Court," Suzanne Ross from the New York Free Mumia Coalition announced during a 2011 event introducing the new legal team.
"It is absolutely my honor to represent Mumia Abu-Jamal. It is my pleasure, it is my honor to have that opportunity and there is no question in my mind, there is no question in the mind of anyone at the Legal Defense Fund that the justice system has completely and utterly failed Mumia Abu-Jamal and in our view, that has everything to do with race and that is why the legal defense fund is in this case," attorney Christina Swarms said during the event. "We are acutely aware that the injustices of the criminal justice system are inextricably bound up in race."
Eight months later in December 2011, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund was successful in overturning Abu-Jamal's death sentence.
Yesterday during testimony on Capitol Hill, Adegbile denied the NAACP Legal Defense Fund involvement in the Abu-Jamal case had anything to do with race, but instead argued his organization got involved on a strictly legal basis.
"The work involved a legal issue relating to jury issues, it was about the legal process and it was years after the conviction had been entered by the lower court. It was on an issue of whether or not the jury had been properly instructed,” Adegbile said. “It’s important I think to understand that in no way does that legal representation zealously as an advocate cast an aspersion or look past the grievous loss of Sgt. Faulkner.”
Attorneys painted Faulkner as a racist cop and painted the jury as racially biased despite Abu-Jamal hand selecting his own jury. As a reminder:
The initial racial makeup of the jury was 3 blacks and 9 non-blacks. While the prosecutor accepted four blacks to the jury, Jamal has admitted that he used at least one of his own peremptory challenges to remove a black potential juror (James Burgess) who had been accepted by the prosecution. Another black juror was later dismissed when she violated the court’s sequestration order. Therefore, the final racial makeup of the jury that convicted Jamal and sentenced him to death was 2 blacks and 10 non-blacks. It should be noted that a unanimous verdict is required to secure a conviction and a death sentence.
As Adegbile's nomination moves toward confirmation, it is important to keep in mind the head of the Civil Rights Division is the person ultimately responsible for cases brought against law enforcement officers and agencies. Under his leadership and through his record, it is clear as assistant attorney general, Adegbile would use the tactic of unfounded allegations of racism against law enforcement officers in order to carry out the racial agenda of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder from inside the Department of Justice. At best, Adegbile's aid to Abu-Jamal is a serious conflict of interest. The National Fraternal Order of Police credits Adegbile with turning "the justice system on its head with unfounded and unproven allegations" and has promised to fight his nomination with every resource available.
Thanks to J. Christian Adams for the heads up on the video.