"Debo Adegbile Gets Committee Approval for Civil Rights Post," is by Todd Ruger for Legal Times. The article was posted last Thrusday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved the nomination of Debo Adegbile to run the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, despite objections from Republicans for his appellate work on behalf of a convicted killer.
The committee voted, 10-8, to move Adegbile's nomination to the full Senate, where it is uncertain when he might get a final vote. Under the Senate's new rules, however, Adegbile's nomination needs only a simple majority to win approval.
Republicans on the committee again expressed concern about work Adegbile and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund did on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted in the murder of a Philadelphia police officer more than 30 years ago.
Think Progress posts, "The Ugly Campaign To Punish A Civil Rights Lawyer Because He Helped Save A Man From Execution," by Ian Millhiser.
In 1982, a Pennsylvania jury sentenced a man to die shortly after convicting him for murdering a Philadelphia police officer. Yet, as a federal appeals court determined years later, this sentence violated the Constitution. The trial judge gave the jury a confusing form and confusing jury instructions which could be read to effectively require a sentence of death unless every single member of the jury agreed that mitigating factors were present justifying a life sentence. Thus, even if nearly every member of a jury agreed that the death penalty was not warranted, these confusing instructions could have led to a death sentence if only one juror supported it.
As a matter of law, the appeals court’s decision to overturn this death sentence was not controversial. Two of the judges who reached this decision were Reagan appointees, and they followed a Supreme Court decision which warned that the possibility that a single juror could “require the jury to impose the death penalty, is one we dare not risk.” But the politics of this case were particularly fraught. The death row inmate at issue in the case was Mumia Abu-Jamal, a radio journalist and co-founder of Philadelphia’s Black Panther Party whose name will be familiar to anyone who’s followed American leftist politics over the last decade. Moreover, Abu-Jamal was not simply convicted of murder, he was convicted of murdering a police officer.
And now, those politics threaten the career of one of America’s leading civil rights attorneys.
"Senate Judiciary Republicans blame a lawyer (Adegbile) for a client (Abu-Jamal)," is by Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle.
One committee member, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas — a former Texas Supreme Court justice — said Adegbile “has forcefully advocated for overturning the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a man who has proudly acknowledged that he murdered a police officer.” Cornyn was apparently referring to a hospital-bed confession reported by prosecution witnesses and disputed by the defense.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett weighed in with a statement that Adegbile “pushed the bounds of appropriate advocacy in supporting the cause of a convicted murderer.” Police groups and Faulkner’s widow have added their own denunciations of the candidate.
Adegbile won committee approval on a 10-8 vote, and should benefit in his Senate confirmation vote from Democrats’ recent move to ban filibusters of executive-branch appointees and judicial candidates below the Supreme Court level.
The hearing, though, raises the question of whether lawyers who represent controversial or even hateful clients — which is sometimes part of a lawyer’s job — should have that held against them if they’re nominated to public office.
Philadelphia City Paper posts, "Mumia's lawyer one step closer to DOJ despite Senate freakout," by Emily Guendelsberger.
It seems strange to imply that lawyers should defend only likeable and sympathetic clients. Everyone's entitled to defense, innocent and guilty alike. Along with Williams and Toomey, a lot of conservative publications are echoing the message that defending a cop-killer should stain a lawyer's record for all time — here's some sample phrasings: