In a dramatic development that could shake the political leadership of  the Justice Department, career lawyer Christopher Coates has sent a letter to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights offering to testify Friday on matters related to the controversial New Black Panthers voter-intimidation case. Click here or on the screen capture below to read Coates’ letter in PDF form:

Ten months ago, Coates, the award-winning former chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division, was subpoenaed by the Commission to testify about the case. He was subsequently instructed by DOJ officials to ignore the subpoena. Within the past hour, commissioners were informed that Chairman Gerald Reynolds had spoken with Coates and that the chairman would reconvene the Commission’s ongoing hearing on Friday at 9:30 a.m. to hear Coates’s testimony.

The Civil Rights Commission has sought to obtain Coates’ testimony on Justice’s dismissal of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case in Philadelphia. In a recent request to Justice, the Commission agreed to limit initial questioning of Coates to accusations made by former career lawyer J. Christian Adams about statements and other actions by Julie Fernandes, an Obama administration political appointee, if DOJ produced Coates.

The DOJ refused.