Obama nominee slammed for legal aid to Abu-Jamal

Posted: January 10, 2014

Longtime Sesame Street viewers may remember him as Debo, the little boy who chatted with Grover about the letter S in the 1970s.

But to the National Fraternal Order of Police, Debo Adegbile is a civil rights lawyer who "turned the justice system on its head" by providing legal assistance for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The police group is fighting Adegbile's nomination by President Obama to head voter-rights enforcement at the Department of Justice.

On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, a Bucks County Republican, sent a letter to Obama calling Adegbile's nomination "a direct affront to the thousands of law enforcement officials who serve in harm's way to protect our families."

Adegbile appeared Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee and faced questions mainly about voting rights, MSNBC reported.

As a lawyer with the Legal Defense and Educational Fund of the NAACP, Adegbile argued that there was racial discrimination in the jury selection for Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal was convicted of the Dec. 9, 1981, slaying of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner and is serving life in prison.

The fund provided Abu-Jamal legal representation during the appellate fight over whether his death sentence, which had been vacated, should be reinstated.

"His sentence - death - was undone by your nominee and others like him who turned the justice system on its head with unfounded and unproven allegations of racism," Chuck Canterbury, national FOP president, wrote to Obama.

Adegbile, who grew up in New York, appeared on Sesame Street for nine years. He is senior counsel for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.).


bmoran@phillynews.com

215-854-5983

@RobertMoran215

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