Committee approves Abu-Jamal lawyer to head Justice Dept. division

ASSOCIATED PRESS Sen. Pat Toomey blasts the nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Looking on are U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (left) and local FOP president John McNesby.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Sen. Pat Toomey blasts the nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Looking on are U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (left) and local FOP president John McNesby.
Posted: February 12, 2014

LAWMAKERS and law enforcers joined forces in Philadelphia yesterday to protest President Obama's nomination of Debo Adegbile - a lawyer who once supervised the defense of notorious cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal - to head the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

"I don't believe he's an appropriate choice for this role," Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said at a morning news conference at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5's headquarters in the Far Northeast.

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Bucks, agreed: "When the president nominated Debo Adegbile to head up a very important role in the Justice Department, to head up all civil rights, he made a mistake. I think he more than made a mistake. He turned a tin ear to law enforcement, didn't even check that the FOP here in the city of Philadelphia has been fighting this fight for more than 30-plus, almost 33 years."

FOP Lodge 5 president John McNesby and First Assistant District Attorney Ed McCann chimed in with similar objections.

Their opposition stems from Adegbile's work with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, whose lawyers have argued against Abu-Jamal's death sentence for the Dec. 9, 1981, roadside gun slaying of 25-year-old Officer Daniel Faulkner.

Adegbile told the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that he did not write the briefs that Legal Defense Fund lawyers filed on behalf of Abu-Jamal, and that the briefs disputed the fairness of Abu-Jamal's death sentence, not his guilt.

But Toomey countered that Adegbile supervised defense fund lawyers who have publicly celebrated Abu-Jamal's suspended death sentence, questioned the evidence tying him to Faulkner's death and labeled him innocent.

Adegbile's supporters have called him one of the nation's preeminent civil-rights lawyers.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Adegbile's nomination, along party lines, on Thursday. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is expected to schedule it for a full Senate vote soon.


On Twitter: @DanaDiFilippo

Blog: phillyconfidential.com

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