Speed Reads

civil rights

Sessions taps Justice Department lawyer to prosecute transgender murder case

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has sent a federal hate-crimes lawyer to Iowa, where he will assist with the local prosecution of a man accused of killing a transgender high school student in 2016, officials with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times on Sunday.

It's a move that has surprised critics of Sessions, who have called him out for reversing a policy that encouraged schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms that match their gender identity and announcing that the Justice Department no longer considered gay or transgender people protected from workplace discrimination. People who know Sessions told the Times he is more likely to look at filing civil rights charges in individual cases, rather than trying to tackle a systemic problem.

In court documents filed Friday, it was revealed that Justice Department attorney Christopher Perras will head to Iowa to serve as county prosecutor in the case against Jorge Sanders-Galvez, the man accused of shooting and killing Kedarie Johnson, 16, of Burlington. Relatives of the slain high school student say Kedarie was gay, sometimes went by the name Kandicee, and would wear men's and women's clothing. Typically, the Justice Department only sends lawyers out to serve as local prosecutors when they can provide "expertise in areas that the federal government views as significant," the Times reports.