Governor Dayton has decided to appoint David Lillehaug to a seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court. I wish he wouldn’t. David Lillehaug is not entitled to be addressed as ”Your Honor” or ”The Honorable Justice” because his public record is stained with an ineradicable dishonor.
I’m referring to his decisions and actions as U.S. Attorney in Minnesota, especially his role in the 1995 frame-up and legal persecution of Ms. Qubilah Shabazz, daughter of the late El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, who was known in history as Malcolm X.
Mr. Lillehaug brought a bogus indictment against Ms. Shabazz, charging her with ”conspiracy” to murder prominent Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan. When the alleged case against Ms. Shabazz was exposed by journalists and by her lawyer William Kunstler as an example of the worst kind of FBI abuse and corruption, Lillehaug refused to dismiss the case and pressured Shabazz to plead guilty to a token minor charge.
If you were in her place — having been targeted by a warped FBI and a politically ambitious prosecutor, having been entrapped and betrayed, seeking anonymity rather than the pitiless glare of a media circus, having no reason to trust a justice system historically biased against African Americans — you could understand why Qubilah Shabazz, trying to end a nightmare, would agree to plead to a trivial offense.
However, the rest of us should be ashamed that such a travesty was perpetrated in our name and with our tax money, including at least $45,000 paid to a professional informant! Lillehaug insisted on a guilty plea, for something or anything, only to cover his own malfeasance in order to keep alive his hopes for political aggrandizement.
Subsequently, he tried and failed to win Democratic Farmer Labor Party nominations for state Attorney General and U.S. Senator. Then he bided his time, and collected political obligations as one of the DFL lawyers in the 2008 and 2010 election recount victories. Now he’s cashing in.
Mr. Lillehaug has never apologized to his legal victim or to the citizens he so ill served as U.S. Attorney. Lillehaug’s insistence on prosecuting Qubilah Shabazz, rather than throwing out the FBI’s bogus case before trial, and his cruelty in extracting a guilty plea and forcing Miss Shabazz into custody of a so-called ”treatment” program, cannot be overlooked as a contributing factor to the horrendous tragedy, which not long afterwards took the life of the late Dr. Betty Shabazz, Malcolm’s widow and Qubilah’s mother.
As a citizen of this state, it’s my opinion that David Lillehaug is the wrong person to trust with the responsibility of dispensing justice as a member of Minnesota’s highest court.
Governor Mark Dayton can be reached by phone at 651-201-3400, email firstname.lastname@example.org or postal mail at 130 State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.
Oliver Steinberg lives in St. Paul.