The PJ Tatler

Serving two masters at DOJ

Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute uncovers some predictably racialist policies inside the Department of Justice Special Litigation Section (SPL).  Few know what the Special Litigation Section is, unless you happen to be a police officer.  SPL is housed inside the infamous Civil Rights Division headed by scandal plagued Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez.  I’ve written about how a racialist view of voting rights animates decisions by Perez and his deputy Julie Fernandes.  MacDonald describes how the same racialist philosophy is fueling litigation and oversight against police departments across the country – and costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

When you realize who Perez has promoted into management positions inside SPL, MacDonald’s piece comes as no surprise.  Included are longstanding antagonists to law enforcement.  Julie Abbate is Deputy Chief of SPL.  Abbate was arrested in D.C. during a World Bank Protest.  She claims she was just a bystander at the protest.  Aren’t they all?  She then sued the police as part of a class action, and the class obtained a judgment.  The new Section Chief is Jonathan Smith. (note his old employer still hasn’t removed the link – talk about conflicts)   

Smith replaces a section chief who was unwilling to serve as a lapdog to Perez and bring sketchy cases.  Smith served 8 years as Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.  Prior to his time at the Legal Aid Society, he served as Executive Director of the Public Justice Center.  He also was Executive Director of the D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project which served essentially as a law firm for prisoners against prisons and prison guards.

MacDonald notes in her article that many investigations at DOJ start when a “buddy at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund called me and asked us to open up an investigation in Des Moines.”    She might have more accurately said a buddy called from the “Legal Aid Society of D.C.”