The Curious Case of the Lying Law Student

Attorney General Eric Holder will give the commencement address at the University of Virginia Law School.  Yes, the same institution where Johnathan Perkins is set to graduate May 22 despite the fact that he lied to UVA police, the university community, and Albemarle County.  See UVA's Honor code here.  Johnathan unleashed his blatant anti-cop agenda in a Letter to the Editor in the school's Virginia Law Weekly on April 22, only to recant it weeks later.  Perkins and Holder on the same stage should be enough to rouse the specter of Jefferson himself.

The 25-year-old student's Million Little Pieces ruse reflects the social justice crowd's rationale that lies aren't lies when they serve a higher purpose.  His falsification of injustice on campus to rouse public awareness of police brutality was in fact unjust to the students, faculty, administration, and anyone else touched by this story.

How could it happen that a law student would lie about police brutality and racial profiling when his own well-connected grandfather had already tackled the issue in extensive writings on the matter?

Dr. John M. Perkins is an international speaker, author, Ford Foundation fellow, President of the John M. Perkins Reconciliation and Development Foundation, civil rights activist, adviser to three presidents, and co-founder of the Christian Community Development Association.  The CCDA boasts 500 individual community organizations and promotes the three R's of community organizing: "relocation, redistribution, and reconciliation."

Beginning in the 1960's Dr. Perkins, along with his wife and children, led boycotts, strikes, and protests.  The evangelical leader has been a guest speaker at dozens of colleges and has received many honorary degrees.  He received the Distinguished Black American award three years in a row, accompanied the Reverend Billy Graham on his Crusades, and traveled to Kenya where he witnessed the "Kenyans spirit of family and community."

Dr. Charles Marsh, a religious studies professor who heads the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia, co-authored a book with Johnathan's grandfather in 2009.  In the same year Dr. Perkins teamed up with 30-year-old Shane Claiborne to write another social justice treatise, Follow Me to Freedom.  Claiborne, a hippie-ish, self-avowed "ordinary radical," HuffPo regular, and "conscientious tax-cheat," went to Baghdad in 2003 to protest the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

In Follow Me to Freedom, Perkins praises the President, writing, "Obama exuded hope and change ... this is what a lot of people see in him and why they followed. ... Now Obama isn't John the Baptist, but I think we see the same dynamic at work in the Scriptures.  People followed John the Baptist because of the power of his message and the content of his character."  Shane notes that his co-author was invited to the White House by Obama soon after the inauguration.

Dr. Perkins' proximity to presidents, social justice activists, and UVA academics no doubt caused a panic when his grandson, in his last year of law school, fell from grace.  Rick Turner, president of the local NAACP, urged the university to take a "non-punitive" approach claiming something close to an insanity defense: " ... why would this person put his career on the line? I think you ask him to sit down with a psychiatrist to see what's going on in his head.  Where was he going with this?  People with normal thought patterns don't do this."

In fact, Johnathan's "thought patterns" are part and parcel of a legacy that began with his grandfather's traumatic beginnings.  The elder Perkins reportedly hailed from a family "known for their bootlegging, gambling and overall toughness."  Vera, John's wife, stated that "[t]he Perkinses just wouldn't take nothing off of nobody."  When Dr. Perkins was 16, his older brother Clyde was shot and killed in a scuffle with police.  In a 2006 autobiography Perkins recalls the incident in vivid detail.

Clyde's death proved a game-changer for the future minister.  Many of Perkins' books depict violent and racist law enforcement officials.  In his 2006 autobiography, Let Justice Roll Down, he states that "ever since the blacks started agitating in the early 60's white hatred has been rising and rising."  Perkins recalls specific incidents like this one:

The police tailed us across the railroad tracks and followed us along the paved streets...we were just a few blocks from the Voice of Calvary when the patrol car switched on its blue flashers. We pulled over.

Doug hopped out of the car even faster than I did and asked the officer "Is something wrong?"

"You just shut up! Stand aside!" one of the policemen yelled.

Johnathan's made-up story of racial profiling reflects his grandfather's 60's account.  The younger Perkins wrote this in his letter to the Virginia Law Weekly:

About one hundred yards from home, I noticed a police car approaching me. As it neared, the squad car slowed down, blue lights flashing. One of the officers inside pointed the car's spotlight on me. The UVA officers (both white) stopped their car, got out and confronted me...The two of them proceeded to closely tail me (blue lights still flashing)...

Sound familiar?  When Johnathan was asked why he lied, he admitted that he wanted to draw attention to "police misconduct."  The fact that it didn't happen in Charlottesville in 2011 is irrelevant.  When Eric Holder was called out for failing to prosecute the club-wielding Black Panthers in 2008 he cited the 60's when "his people" were intimidated at the voting booth.  Perkins' self-taught grandfather states that he learned everything he knows in the "collective classroom."

The honorable Dr. Perkins as well as the Attorney General should be very proud of their star pupil on May 22.  UVA should be ashamed.

M. Catharine Evans writes for Potter Williams Report.

Update. Dean Paul Mahoney of the University of Virginia Law School writes:
Dear editor:

Your site posted an article by M. Catherine Evans entitled "The Curious Case of the Lying Law Student" that contains a guess that the author states as a fact.  The article refers to the University of Virginia Law School as "the same institution where Johnathan Perkins is set to graduate May 22 despite the fact he lied to UVA police...."

I stated in a press release last week, which I copy below, that the University's internal disciplinary processes are confidential.  Ms. Evans' statement that Mr. Perkins will graduate this Sunday is her inference, not a statement of fact.

It would be only fair for you to reprint our press statement in light of Ms. Evans' article.  I hope you will take seriously your own editorial policy: "Do not write speculatively about factual information."

Here is the statement:

At the end of last week, a student at the Law School admitted that a letter he published in the student newspaper was untrue.  My office has received inquiries about the application of the University of Virginia's Honor System to this incident.

The Honor System is student-run and confidential, and of course includes procedural protections for the accused.  There will be no public statement of the existence of an Honor investigation (or any other disciplinary proceeding) unless the subject of the investigation chooses to make one.  In the event that an Honor proceeding or other disciplinary action is unresolved at the time of graduation, the subject is typically permitted to participate in the ceremony but does not actually receive a degree pending the outcome of the proceeding.

The University and the Law School are committed to maintaining a community of trust and take violations of that trust with utmost seriousness.  We also take seriously the procedural safeguards afforded every student accused of an offense.