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The New Black Panther Party Case: A Timeline

Posted By Tina Korbe On July 16, 2010 @ 8:00 pm In Legal | Comments Disabled

To clarify the issues at stake in the New Black Panther case, The Heritage Foundation has compiled two timelines from news reports — including The Washington Times’ timeline of events [1] — and government documents, especially those from the United States Commission on Civil Rights [2]. Both timelines are posted here. The first reviews highlights from the case, concluding with the case’s dismissal on May 19th, 2009. The second, more comprehensive timeline details more meetings between the Department of Justice and the White House and extends through July 2010.

Highlight Timeline:
Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008
The New Black Panther Party, which is recognized as a violent, racial hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center [3] and the Anti-Defamation League [4], announces on its website that more than 350 of its members will be “deployed” in 15 cities across the country to “ensure that people of color … are ensured their right to vote” and to “provide security protecting our people in the face of real and confirmed” white supremacist group threats. Outside a Philadelphia polling place, two New Black Panthers dressed in paramilitary garb—Jerry Jackson and Minister King Samir Shabazz—stand in front of the door. Shabazz uses racial epithets and brandishes a two-foot-long nightstick. The two are caught on tape, and multiple witnesses, including poll watchers Michael Mauro, Chris Hull, and Bartle Bull [5], say voters, poll watchers, and others were intimidated.

Friday, Jan. 7, 2009
The Department of Justice files a lawsuit in Philadelphia against the NBPP, and conspirators Malik Zulu Shabazz, Jackson and King Samir Shabazz. NBPP officials then supposedly suspend the Philadelphia chapter (only after the lawsuit is filed), condemn bringing weapons to the polls, and claim King Samir Shabazz acted on his own, with no direction from the national organization.

Thursday, March 12, 2009
Thomas J. Perrelli is confirmed by the Senate to be Associate Attorney General of the United States on a vote of 72 to 20 [6]. No Democrats vote in opposition. According to The Washington Times, he does not visit the White House for the next 11 days.

Monday, March 23, 2009
The DOJ trial team on the case—Christopher Coates, Robert Popper, J. Christian Adams and Spencer R. Fisher—present its draft motion for “Request for Entry of Default” to the acting division chiefs—Loretta King and/or Steven H. Rosenbaum.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Perrelli meets with White House Associate Counsel Susan Davies in the White House. Perrelli will meet with White House officials nine times between this date and the final dismissal of the case.

Late March
Kristen Clarke, director of political participation at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, reportedly asks Justice Department officials to drop the case.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Because the defendants missed the deadline to file an answer, the trial team files notice of default with the court.

Friday, April 17, 2009
U.S. District Judge Stewart R. Dalzell issues an order recognizing that the Black Panthers are in default. The order gives the DOJ until May 1 to file an official Motion for Default Judgment.

Friday, May 1, 2009
King orders the trial team, with Perrelli’s approval, to seek an extension of time to file the motion with the court.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Department of Justice Appellate Division lawyers Diana K. Flynn and Marie K. McElderry weigh in on the case at the unusual request of Justice Department officials. Their memos express support for the trial team’s contention that the case should be fully pursued.

Friday, May 15, 2009
The trial team is ordered to dismiss case against the NBPP, chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz, and Jackson.

Monday, May 18, 2009
Court enters default judgment against defendant King Samir Shabazz. The injunction is extraordinarily narrow compared with the original drafted by the trial team. He is enjoined only from carrying a weapon near polling places within the city limits of Philadelphia, and the injunction lasts only until Nov. 15, 2012. The injunction does not cover other acts of intimidation or other racial threats at any Philadelphia polling place, and he is not prohibited from doing anything at any polling place outside of Philadelphia.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Now-cleared defendant Jackson is allowed to again serve as an official Democratic poll watcher at any polling place nationwide. The NBPP is free to provide “security” at any polling place in the country.

Comprehensive Timeline:
Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008

The New Black Panther Party, which is recognized as a violent, racial hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, announces on its website that more than 350 of its members will be “deployed” in 15 cities across the country to “ensure that people of color … are ensured their right to vote” and to “provide security protecting our people in the face of real and confirmed” white supremacist group threats. Outside a Philadelphia polling place, two New Black Panthers dressed in paramilitary garb—Jerry Jackson and Minister King Samir Shabazz—stand in front of the door. Shabazz uses racial epithets and brandishes a two-foot-long nightstick. The two are caught on tape, and multiple witnesses, including poll watchers Michael Mauro, Chris Hull, and Bartle Bull [5], say voters, poll watchers, and others were intimidated.

Friday, Jan. 7, 2009
The Department of Justice files a lawsuit in Philadelphia against the NBPP, and conspirators Malik Zulu Shabazz, Jackson, and King Samir Shabazz. NBPP officials then supposedly suspend the Philadelphia chapter (only after the lawsuit is filed), condemn bringing weapons to the polls and claim King Samir Shabazz acted on his own, with no direction from the national organization. Shortly thereafter, NBPP Chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz says on national TV that Jackson and King Samir Shabazz were justified in bringing a weapon to the polls, because neo-Nazis were present at the Philadelphia polling place.

Thursday, March 12, 2009
Thomas J. Perrelli is confirmed by the Senate to be Associate Attorney General of the United States on a vote of 72 to 20 [6]. No Democrats vote in opposition. According to the Washington Times, he does not visit the White House for the next 11 days.

Monday, March 23, 2009
The DOJ trial team on the case—Christopher Coates, Robert Popper, J. Christian Adams and Spencer R. Fisher—present their draft motion for “Request for Entry of Default” to the acting division chiefs—Loretta King and/or Steven H. Rosenbaum.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Perrelli meets with White House Associate Counsel Susan Davies in the White House. Perrelli will meet with White House officials nine times between this date and the final dismissal of the case.

Late March
Kristen Clarke, director of political participation at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, reportedly asks Justice Department officials to drop the case.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Because the defendants missed the deadline to file an answer, the trial team files notice of default with the court. Perrelli meets at the White House with then Deputy White House Counsel Cassandra Butts, a former lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Perrelli and fellow Justice Department political appointee Spencer Overton again meet with Butts at the White House. Overton is the author of “Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression,” and is a noted critic of Republican “ballot security” efforts and other measures such as requiring voters to show identification at the polls.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Perrelli again meets with Butts in the White House.

Friday, April 17, 2009
U.S. District Judge Stewart R. Dalzell issues an order recognizing that the Black Panthers are in default. The order gives the DOJ until May 1 to file an official Motion for Default Judgment.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Perrelli again meets with Butts in the White House.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Perrelli again meets with Butts in the White House.

Friday, May 1, 2009
Around noon, Perrelli and Overton visit Butts in the White House. By 4 PM King orders the trial team, with Perrelli’s approval, to seek an extension of time to file the motion with the court.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Perrelli meets with Butts—and an unnamed White House official—in the White House.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Department of Justice Appellate Division lawyers Diana K. Flynn and Marie K. McElderry weigh in on the case at the unusual request of Justice Department officials. Their memos express support for the trial team’s contention that the case should be fully pursued. Perrelli again meets with Butts and an unnamed official in the White House.

Friday, May 15, 2009
The trial team is ordered to dismiss case against the NBPP, chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz, and Jackson.

Monday, May 18, 2009
Court enters default judgment against defendant King Samir Shabazz. The injunction is extraordinarily narrow compared with the original drafted by the trial team. He is enjoined only from carrying a weapon near polling places within the city limits of Philadelphia, and the injunction lasts only until Nov. 15, 2012. The injunction does not cover other acts of intimidation or other racial threats at any Philadelphia polling place, and he is not prohibited from doing anything at any polling place outside of Philadelphia.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Now-cleared defendant Jackson is allowed to again serve as an official Democratic poll watcher at any polling place nationwide. The NBPP is free to provide “security” at any polling place in the country.

Thursday, May 28, 2009
Rep. Lamar Smith (R–TX), a Member of the Judiciary Committee, sends a letter to King to request an explanation as to why the DOJ dismissed a lawsuit that it had effectively won.

Friday, May 29, 2009
An article headlined “Justice Department Political Appointees Overruled Career Lawyers” appears in The Washington Times. A similar report appears in the Philadelphia Bulletin.

Monday, June 8, 2009
Rep. Frank Wolf (R–VA) sends a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder to ask for an explanation of the dismissal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The United States Commission on Civil Rights sends a letter to King to ask for the rationale behind the dismissal.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Wolf sends to Reps. John Conyers (D–MI) and Smith a letter that asks the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on the NBPP dismissal.

Thursday, July 9, 2009
Ten Republican Members of Congress send a letter to DOJ Inspector General Glenn Fine asking him to investigate whether improper political considerations led the DOJ to dismiss the NBPP suit.

Monday, July 13, 2009
Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich sends a letter to Smith defending the dismissal.

Friday, July 17, 2009
Smith and Wolf send a letter to Holder to rebut Weich’s defense of the dismissal.

Monday, July 20, 2009
King and Rosenbaum meet Rep. Wolf. He cites dismay at their assertions of privilege and notes that most FOIA exemptions do not apply to requests from Congress.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Wolf sends a letter to Holder to reiterate and expand request for documents and information.

Friday, July 24, 2009
Portia Roberson, director of intergovernmental affairs for the DOJ, sends a letter to USCCR Chairman Gerald Reynolds to defend the dismissal. The letter uses similar arguments to those contained in Weich’s letter to Smith.

Thursday, July 30, 2009
The Washington Times reports that Perrelli “was consulted and ultimately approved a decision in May to reverse course and drop a civil complaint” against NBPP defendants. The paper also reports that Clarke talked with DOJ lawyers about the case and shared copies of the complaint with several persons.

Friday, July 31, 2009
Wolf sends a letter to Holder that cites the July 30 Washington Times article. Wolf expresses dismay that Jackson had been recertified as a poll watcher as of May 19, 2009. He attaches a Congressional Research Service report that says no legal impediment prevents the DOJ from refiling the case. He also attaches the appellate memos and expresses disappointment that those were not disclosed by the DOJ to Congress.

Monday, Aug. 10, 2009
The USCCR sends another letter to Holder reiterating its request for information.

Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009
An article headlined “Holder’s Black Panther Stonewall” appears in the Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009
Roberson sends to the USCCR a letter that states that the NBPP matter has been referred to the Office of Professional Responsibility and the DOJ will not provide any further information until the OPR review is complete. The OPR sends a letter to Wolf to notify him of the same.

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009
Reynolds sends a letter to Holder to request that he instruct DOJ to fully cooperate.

Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009
Smith and Wolf send a letter to Holder to request a status update of the OPR inquiry.

Monday, Nov. 16, 2009
Roberson sends to Reynolds a letter that refers again to the OPR review and states that DOJ has only filed two Section 11(b) lawsuits since 1976.
Wolf sends to Holder a letter that seeks the reports prepared by Coates, Popper, Adams and Fisher.

Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009
Joseph H. Hunt, director of the Department of Justice Federal Programs Branch, sends to Reynolds a letter that says DOJ will continue to consider the Commission’s requests for information, but that individual DOJ employees cannot provide information unless thr DOJ approves.

Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009
Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee that Rule 11 required the NBPP dismissal.

Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009
The Commission subpoenas the DOJ and includes a cover letter from David Blackwood, general counsel at USCCR, to Hunt.

Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009
The Washington Times reports that the DOJ told subpoenaed attorneys not to cooperate with the Commission.

Friday, Dec. 18, 2009
Blackwood sends to Hunt a letter that requests assurances that the DOJ will comply with the Commission subpoena.

Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009
Hunt sends to Blackwood a letter that states that the DOJ will comply with all requests that fall within the Commission’s statutory functions and duties.

Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009
The Washington Times reports that Coates has been removed from his post as Voting Section chief and transferred to South Carolina.

Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010
The DOJ responds to the Commission subpoena.

Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010
Wolf sends a letter to Fine to question Perrelli visits to the White House at critical junctures in the NBPP case. He raises questions regarding a possible breakdown of the “firewall” former Attorney General Ed Mukasey put in place to prevent politicization of active cases. He notes the lack of true cooperation with the Commission investigation and bogus privileges asserted.

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010
Fine sends to Wolf a letter that says Congress should change the jurisdiction of the OIG to investigate not just waste, fraud or abuse, but all matters within the Department because the OPR is not independent because it reports to Holder. Weich sends to Wolf a letter that takes issue with Wolf’s questioning of the OPR’s ability to conduct an unbiased and independent review of the NBPP case.

Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
Hunt sends to Blackwood a letter that says no decision had been reached about whether to permit DOJ attorneys to testify at a Commission hearing.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Smith and Wolf send a letter to Fine to express disappointment that Fine has declined to investigate and to assert that the investigative jurisdiction of the OIG is broader than Fine suggests.

Friday, March 12, 2010
Hunt sends to Blackwood a letter that says again no decision has been made as to whether DOJ attorneys will be allowed to testify.

Monday, March 22, 2010
Holder assures the Senate Judiciary Committee that the DOJ has cooperated with the Commission.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Blackwood sends to Hunt a letter that requests full cooperation and release of DOJ attorneys to testify.

Thursday, April 1, 2010
Reynolds sends a letter to Holder to ask for a personal response as to whether the DOJ will fully cooperate with the Commission’s investigation and to request that the DOJ release DOJ attorneys to testify.

Friday, April 16, 2010
Hunt sends to Blackwood a letter that provides supplemental responses to interrogatories and asserts that the DOJ has been extremely cooperative with the Commission’s investigation without disclosing its internal deliberations. The letter says the DOJ is willing to meet with the Commission to answer questions about the department’s responses.

Monday, April 19, 2010
Blackwood sends to Hunt a letter that accepts Perez’ offer to testify. The testimony is scheduled for May 14, 2010.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Perez testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing and is asked about the level of the Department’s compliance with the Commission’s investigation.

Friday, April 23, 2010
The Commission holds its NBPP hearings. The Commission hears compelling testimony from witnesses Mauro, Hill, and Bull, as well as Wolf—who submits into evidence three DOJ memoranda about the NBPP matter—and Gregory Katsas, a former Justice Department attorney who provides interesting testimony regarding the decision-making processes at the DOJ and his views regarding the strength of the DOJ case against all the defendants.

Friday, May 14, 2010
Commission hearings continue with more testimony from Perez.

June 4, 2010
Adams resigns from the DOJ and reveals in a letter that the acting DOJ supervisors, in violation of federal law, had ordered him and the other trial lawyers on the NBPP case not to testify in response to subpoenas issued by the USCCR.

July 6, 2010
Adams, freed to testify by his resignation from the DOJ, testifies before the Civil Rights Commission.


Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2010/07/16/the-new-black-panther-party-case-a-timeline/

URLs in this post:

[1] timeline of events: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jan/19/annotated-timeline/

[2] the United States Commission on Civil Rights: http://www.usccr.gov/NBPH/NBPH.htm

[3] Southern Poverty Law Center: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2009/winter/black-separatists

[4] the Anti-Defamation League: http://www.adl.org/main_Extremism/new_black_panther_party.htm

[5] including poll watchers Michael Mauro, Chris Hull, and Bartle Bull: http://www.usccr.gov/NBPH/04-23-2010_NBPPhearing.pdf

[6] vote of 72 to 20: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=1&vote=00098

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