From 1969 to 1994 JPT served as the career deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. Since retiring, he writes on civil rights issues.
On Saturday, February 14, 1998, JPT published One-Sided View of The King Trial, a Washington Post Free-for-All column, which rebuts the "one-sided account presented in the extensive excerpts from Lou Cannon's book on that case." Arguing that "the beating continued gratuitously long after King had been subdued," the column attacks Cannon's "absurd defense that the LAPD was at fault for failing to train its officers not to beat arrestees," and points out that at the trial "LAPD's ranking expert on the use of force, explained how the continued beating of King was absolutely forbidden by his department's policy."
On Sunday, December 21, 1997, JPT appeared on Jesse Jackson's CNN program Crossfire with Reagan's Assistant Attorney General Brad Reynolds. He argued that affirmative action became a big issue when the Reagan administration tried to "stomp out" all use of numerical goals or race specific relief -- a policy which caused lasting harm to civil rights enforcement.
On Sunday, December 14, 1997, JPT published Used and Abused: The Civil Rights Division, a Washington Post OpEd which recounts the history of partisan wrangling over affirmative action and its damaging impact on civil rights enforcement.
On Sunday, August 25, 1996, JPT published a Los Angeles Times OpEd on the 1968 Democratic National Convention and Chicago's "Days of Rage." Chicago '68 -- The Unconventional One is the original, complete version submitted to the Times.
In 1995, JPT published a New York Times OpEd on affirmative action, arguing that "civil rights are basic principles of our democracy that should not be used as political grist ... other than faithful enforcement, there should be no Republican or Democratic 'position' on civil rights." Let's Reclaim Affirmative Action is the original, complete version submitted to the Times.
On March 10, 1990, JPT delivered a Bloody Sunday Speech in Montgomery, Alabama commemorating the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march and police riot.