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Tag: civil rights division

President Obama Chooses New Head of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division

Vanita Gupta

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A top lawyer for the ACLU is President Obama’s choice to head the civil rights division of the Justice Department, a position that has been without a permanent leaders for more than a year, the Washington Post reports.

Vanita Gupta, 39,will become the acting head of the division Wednesday.

A longtime civil rights lawyer, Gupta brings a lot of experience with her. She is the deputy legal director for the ACLU.

The Post reports that Obama plans to nominate Gupta to be the permanent assistant attorney general for civil rights.

It’s an important position that oversees voting and civil rights investigations.

Born in the Philadelphia area to immigrant parents, Gupta has been lauded for her civil rights work, especially on prison reform, the Post wrote.

Senate Narrowly Rejects Obama’s Choice to Lead Justice Department’s Civil Rights Unit

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday narrowly rejected President Obama’s choice to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The 47-52 vote was shy of the majority needed, the New York Daily News reports.

Debo Adegbile couldn’t muster a majority because eight Democrats joined all 44 Republicans in voting no.

At issue was Adegbile’s role in offering legal help to a man who shot a Philadelphia police officer.

Obama didn’t say whether his office would give the appointment another go.

Obama called the rejection a ““travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.”

Lawyer Nominated for Key Justice Department Post Faces Increased Pressure

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama’s nominee of a key Justice Department position is coming under more attack.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and former Gov. Tom Ridge urged the U.S. Senate to reject Debo Adegbile because he helped overturn the death penalty for a convicted cop killer.

Still, the Senate Judiciary Committee narrowly approved Adegbile to lead the Civil Rights Division, placing his fate in the hands of the full Senate.

In 2011, Adegbile helped get the death penalty tossed in the case of a Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in 1982 of murdering a Philadelphia police officer.

Republicans Bash Justice Department for Perceived Racism in Civil Rights Division

courtSteve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Republican lawmakers lashed out at the Justice Department with accusations of racism and preferential treatment in the civil rights division, the Houston Chronicle reports.

At a Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, former employees and a March Inspector General’s report were used to suggest the division was guided by race, not justice.

“The IG report is a sad commentary on a dysfunctional division torn by polarization and unprofessional behavior where career employees who do not toe liberal views are subjected to racist comments, harassment, bullying, and threat of physical violence,” Hans Von Spakovsky, a conservative legal scholar and former official in the civil rights division during George W. Bush’s administration, told the committee.

The IG, however, did not agree with Spakovsky’s interpretation of the report, saying there was “insufficient evidence” of discrimination, the Chronicle reported.

Key Republican Congressman Wants Answers on Report of Racism at Justice Department

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A report that chronicled “hostile, racist and inappropriate behavior” among Justice Department employees has prompted a senior Republican in Congress to question why the workers are still employed, the Washington Times repots.

Sen. Chuck Grassley’s inquiry follows an alarming report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who found ideological differences that were disrupting the Civil Rights Division.

The Washington Times wrote that the report detailed the premature dismissal of a case against the New Black Panthers.

The report details problems dating back to President Clinton and persisting through the administrations of George W. Bush and Obama.

White Supremacist Gets 18 Months for Mailing Noose to Ohio NAACP Official

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A white Supremacist from Oregon is off to prison.

A federal judge in Toledo sentenced Daniel Lee Jones of Portland to 18 months in prison for sending the president of the Lima, Ohio, chapter of the NAACP, a noose by mail. He pleaded guilty in May.

In his plea agreement, Jones admitted to mailing F.M. Jason Upthegrove a hangman’s noose which was delivered on Feb. 14, 2008, the Justice Department said.

Jones said he sent the noose as a threat because Upthegrove was an African-American who publicly advocated for better police services for African-Americans in Lima, the Justice Department said.

Upthegrove also “spoke out in the media against Jones’s white supremacist group’s mailing of hate flyers related to the shooting of an African American woman by a member of the Lima Police Department,” the Justice Department said.

“A noose, an unmistakable symbol of hatred in this nation, was used by this defendant as a threat of violence aimed at silencing a civil rights advocate,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute those who use threats of violence to attempt to silence proponents of racial equality.”

Baltimore Cop Gets 5 Years In Beating of Handcuffed Juvenile

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Baltimore cop Gregory Mussmacher was convicted in state court of assault after he used his police baton to strike a handcuffed and shackled juvenile in the head and face.

But the conviction was reversed. So in stepped the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which convicted Mussmacher in May for the 2004 beating and obstructing justice by trying to cover the matter up, authorities said.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Baltimore sentenced the former  Baltimore cop to five years in prison, the Justice Department announced.

During its probe into the matter, the Justice Department also brought charges against  two officers, Guy Gerstel and Wayne Thompson,  who pleaded  guilty and testified against Mussmacher. Gerstel, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the investigation, is set to be sentenced later this month. Thompson, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obstruction charge, was sentenced in September to 6 months of home detention.

“The power that accompanies a police officer’s badge does not give the officer the right to violate the civil rights of those in his or her custody,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil rights Division. “The Justice Department will aggressively prosecute any officer who abuses their power and violates the public trust in this way.”

“Any police officer who abuses a suspect, writes false reports and obstructs justice must be held accountable,” added Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. “This case is an embarrassment to the many officers who earn our confidence by performing their duties with honor and integrity.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Justice Dept. Sues Az Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Say it ain’t so Sheriff Joe.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Thursday against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, claiming the Arizona lawman and his department have refused to fully cooperate with the feds’ investigation into allegations his department discriminates against Hispanics in police practices and jail operations.

The Justice Department said it took the latest step “after exhausting all cooperative measures to gain access” to documents and facilities.

The Justice Department said since March 2009 it has tried to secure “secure voluntary compliance with the department’s investigation.”

“The actions of the sheriff’s office are unprecedented. It is unfortunate that the department was forced to resort to litigation to gain access to public documents and facilities,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division said in a statement.