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When Rep. Cynthia McKinney apologized last week for her tussle with a U.S. Capitol Police officer, it seemed she was trying to quiet the controversy surrounding the scuffle. One of the Georgia Democrat’s attorneys apparently didn’t get the memo. “This was an absolute case of excessive force and an absolute case of race,” says lawyer James Myart Jr., whose April 7 comments came one day after McKinney expressed regret for the incident. McKinney is accused of poking an officer in the chest with a cell phone after he tried to stop her at a police checkpoint. A grand jury is considering charging McKinney with simple assault. According to Myart, several hours after the March 29 run-in, Capitol Police visited McKinney’s office. “Not only did they apologize, they said, �Our officer should never have grabbed you,’ ” Myart says. Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said she had not heard that any member of the force visited McKinney’s office that day. Coz Carson, spokesman for McKinney, also could not confirm the visit, saying he had only been on the job for a week and that only McKinney and her lawyers had been in contact with Capitol Police. Myart has been an outspoken defender of McKinney, declaring at a March 31 press conference that “Ms. McKinney is just a victim of being in Congress while black.” And during a recent interview on CNN, Myart suggested a lawsuit might be in order. McKinney’s other attorney — Michael Raffauf of Atlanta — discounted the possibility of such a suit. Myart, a civil rights attorney from San Antonio, is known for handling discrimination suits against the police. He’s also had a series of personal controversies. The State Bar of Texas reprimanded Myart twice, most recently in January for failing to render candid advice to a client. In 1999, the bar suspended him for one year, citing a long list of infractions, including “dishonesty, deceit and misrepresentation.” In 2002, Myart was arrested for taking pictures at a crime scene and charged with interfering with a public servant. Myart claimed an officer grabbed him and stole his camera; he was later found not guilty. “I wear my trials and tribulations with honor as a lawyer,” he says, adding, “Warriors do not wear medals, they wear scars. And I have plenty of scars.”
Sarah Kelley can be contacted at [email protected].

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