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'Gifted attorney' rejected for federal post because of one case

It is a sad day for justice when a gifted attorney is denied an opportunity to run the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division because he defended a man on death row.

When you strip away the politics surrounding Debo Adegbile’s nomination, that’s what it boils down to.

Adegbile is being punished for giving Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted for killing a police officer three decades ago, the defense that our constitution guarantees.

Abu-Jamal was convicted for the 1981 murder of Daniel Faulkner in Philadelphia. His conviction and death sentence was a cause that was taken up by celebrities and civil rights activists across the country.

Although Adegbile’s defeat will be treated as a political blow to President Barack Obama, the truth is it is a punch in the gut for justice.

Because law enforcement groups fiercely opposed Adegbile’s nomination over his work with the NAACP legal defense team on behalf of Abu-Jamal, it was expected that he would be confirmed by a slim margin.

Abu-Jamal, a former journalist and Black Panther, has maintained his innocence, and is seen by his supporters as a political prisoner.

Law enforcement, however, consider Abu-Jamal a common murderer who tried to get got off the hook after gunning down a police officer.