Justice transfers Panthers pursuer out of D.C. office

by Jerry Seper
Washington Times
December 29, 2009

The veteran Justice Department voting rights section chief who recommended going forward on a civil complaint against members of the New Black Panther Party after they disrupted a Pennsylvania polling place in last year’s elections has been removed from his post and transferred to the U.S. attorney’s office in South Carolina.

Justice Department officials confirmed Monday that Christopher Coates, who signed off on the complaint’s filing in federal court in Philadelphia in January accusing the party and three of its members of civil rights violations, would begin his new assignment next month.

The complaint, which accused party members of intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place while wearing black berets, black combat boots, black dress shirts and black jackets with military-style markings, and wielding a nightstick, was later dismissed by Obama administration political appointees at the Justice Department.

The incident gained national attention when it was captured on videotape and distributed on YouTube.

The dismissal resulted in outrage by some Republican members of Congress and in a formal investigation by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which subpoenaed Mr. Coates and J. Christian Adams, the lead attorney in the case, to testify on why the complaint was dismissed. The commission also is seeking documents to explain why the charges were dropped just as a federal judge was about to approve sanctions.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler on Monday said that as a general policy, the department does not comment on personnel matters, but she said she could confirm that Mr. Coates continues to be a Justice employee and will begin an 18-month detail with the U.S. attorney’s office in South Carolina, beginning in January.

The article continues at the Washington Times.

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