Report Clears Justice Department in Black Panther Case

Krissah Thompson, Washington Post, March 29, 2011

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After reviewing thousands of pages of internal e-mails and notes and conducting 44 interviews with department staff members, the [Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR)] reported that “department attorneys did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment” and that the voter-intimidation case against the Panthers was dismissed on “a good faith assessment of the law” and “not influenced by the race of the defendants.”

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In a statement, Smith [Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.)], who chairs the House Judiciary Committee and is expected to hold hearings on whether the department is politicized, said the review–which was limited to the actions of attorneys in the case–“did not address the Civil Rights Division’s misguided policy of using racial considerations when determining whether to enforce voting rights laws. The Division should protect the voting rights of all Americans, regardless of race, gender, religion or political affiliation.”

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An investigation by Justice’s inspector general is ongoing.

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