A smiling and smarmy Hilary Shelton of the NAACP took to The Kelly File last night to compare Debo Adegbile to John Adams. Adegbile is President Obama’s radical nominee to head the Justice Department Civil Rights Division. While at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Adegbile oversaw the inexcusable defense of cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, among other radical policies.
Shelton and other NAACP officials are trying to repair the endangered nomination by comparing Debo Adegbile to John Adams. Adams, you see, represented British solider Hugh White who fired into the crowd in Boston, killing Americans. Adams took on the unpopular representation at White’s criminal trial.
Nice try, Hilary, but Debo Adegbile is no John Adams. While everyone has a constitutional right to a court appointed lawyer for trial, the NAACP’s representation of Mumia isn’t even close.
I was on Fox and Friends this morning to talk about the differences:
Mumia had been convicted and represented by counsel at his trial decades earlier. The NAACP was involved in a federal habeus corpus challenge to his conviction thirty years later. This was a civil case, not a criminal one. At this stage of court proceedings, there is no constitutional right to counsel. This is particularly so when a murderer loses before the federal trial court, and appeals an adverse decision. Adams, in contrast, was representing White at the first stage of a criminal proceeding where we now believe the accused has a fundamental right to court appointed counsel.
But there are bigger and more toxic distinctions between John Adams and Debo Adegbile.