Holder asked to quicken probe of Black Panther case

By Jerry Seper
The Washington Times
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights asked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday to name a Justice Department official to oversee the production of what it called “our overdue information requests” for documents in the dismissal of a civil complaint against New Black Panther Party members accused of disrupting a polling place in the November elections.

Commission Chairman Gerald A. Reynolds, in a letter, said the department has been “largely non-responsive” to requests for information since questions about the dismissal were first raised in June and had turned over “none of the documents” being sought.

Mr. Reynolds said that after seeking to work with department subordinates to get access to the documents, the commission turned directly to Mr. Holder in August but had still not received any of the requested information, including documents on previous voter intimidation investigations “so we could determine whether the departments action in the NBPP case constitutes a change in policy and, if so, what the implications of that change might be.”

He said the commission knew the departments Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) had begun an inquiry into the case and that the department had asked to delay any response until that investigation was complete, but said the commission would be “sensitive to OPRs internal ethics review as we move forward with our own inquiry.”

“The commission will work to accommodate any legitimate concerns the department may have regarding specific requests for information once the department begins its production,” he said.

Earlier this month, the commission voted to investigate the matter, saying it would make an “independent judgment regarding the merits of the NBPP enforcement actions (regardless of how the decisions were made) and the potential impact on future voter-intimidation enforcement by the department.”

The commission wants to know why the Justice Department dismissed a civil complaint accusing members of the New Black Panther Party of disrupting a Philadelphia polling station during last year’s election, saying the department had offered only “weak justifications.”

The article continues at The Washington Times.

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