Tariq El-Shabazz



Philly DA’s Office, 1988-1993, 2016

Notable Events and Controversies

Tariq El-Shabazz has a number of controversies swirling around him.

The most prominent is $190,712 in federal, state, and city tax lien judgments on file against him in Common Pleas Court. His law firm, El-Shabazz & Harris also went to court six times between 2008 and 2016, for failing to pay rent at the Land Title Building on South Broad Street.

At the district attorney’s office he and his colleagues were criticized for offering a blanket deal to resentence juvenile offenders, rather than looking at the cases on an individual basis.

He was friends with and defended an attorney who allegedly stole money from a client to feed a gambling addiction.

He allegedly took defense cases, and fees, and then “seemed to vanish,” missing court dates and sometimes misstating facts to excuse absences. In one case, he was hired to defend a man, Anthony Brown, for a 1998 homicide case. He had that case for two years before he hired an investigator to look into Brown’s alibi, just days before it went to trial. Two federal judges agreed that El-Shabazz inadequately represented Brown, who was wrongfully convicted, according to the private investigator. Other incarcerated men have made similar claims.

When this story came out in late April, El-Shabazz issued a statement accusing the journalist, Ryan Briggs, of defamation and racism, writing, “It is widely known that Mr. Briggs is in the pocket of those in our community who seek to inject their racist views into this important race.”

Despite his assertion that he has never been cited for a disciplinary infraction during tens of thousands of cases he had handled, our volunteer researchers dug up two citations for contempt of court: one in November 1996 (Docket no. MC-51-CR-1123381-1996 in the Municipal Court of Philadelphia County.), and one in June 2001 (Docket no. MC-51-CR-0535591-2001 in the Municipal Court of Philadelphia County.).

He was also sued in 2010 for $34,000 for failing to pay $25,764 in tuition, plus interest, for his child at Springside School. Springside won that case “for want of an answer.” (Springside School vs. Tariq El Shabazz et al. Case no. 2010-12890 in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County.)


The Laborers District Council PAC Fund donated $11,600 to the El-Shabazz campaign. El-Shabazz also received a small, $500 donation from Dominick Cipollini, who owns Keystone Outdoor Advertising Co, which was controversial in its own right for unsightly billboards.