Wednesday, April 27, 2011
MUMIA ABU-JAMAL PARTS ONE AND TWO
*A U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia, acting on orders from the Supreme Court, will again review the death sentence of death-row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal in a hearing scheduled for Nov. 9, reports the AP.
Abu-Jamal, 56, has been on death row since his 1982 conviction for killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner the year before.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2008 granted the one-time radio reporter and former Black Panther a new sentencing hearing based on what it deemed were flawed jury instructions. But the Supreme Court this year upheld a death sentence in an Ohio case with similar jury issues — and ordered the Philadelphia court to revisit its Abu-Jamal ruling.
“The case is indistinguishable from the Ohio case, which is why the Supreme Court sent it back,” Assistant Philadelphia District Attorney Hugh J. Burns Jr. said last Wednesday. Defense lawyer Robert Bryan does not believe the Ohio case seals Abu-Jamal’s fate. He argues that they involve different facts that will enable the three-judge appeals panel to reach a different conclusion.
The appeals court last Tuesday agreed to hear arguments again on the issue, a decision Mr. Bryan saw as positive. The judges could have ruled solely based on written briefs.
Abu-Jamal “was humbled by the good news. We are cautiously encouraged that the federal court has taken this step,” Mr. Bryan said in an e-mail to supporters.
Abu-Jamal has argued in numerous appeals that racism by the trial judge and prosecutors corrupted his 1982 conviction at the hands of a mostly white jury. Those appeals have so far failed.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, have fought a federal judge’s 2001 decision to grant Abu-Jamal a new sentencing hearing because of the flawed jury instructions.
The flaw relates to whether jurors understood how to weigh mitigating circumstances that might have kept Abu-Jamal from being executed. Under state law, jurors did not have to unanimously agree on a mitigating circumstance.
Last Tuesday, the officer’s widow, Maureen Faulkner, attended the Philadelphia premiere of a new film about the case. The movie, “The Barrel of a Gun,” discusses Abu-Jamal’s brushes with the Black Panther movement and the radical Philadelphia group MOVE, which had deadly clashes with city police in 1978 and 1985. [See trailers below.]
Abu-Jamal also himself called into a discussion that followed the screening of a starkly different take on his case called “Justice on Trial.” That film, which debuted across town, argues that evidence was suppressed or tampered with.
DA Williams to appeal new sentencing hearing for Mumia Abu-Jamal
April 26, 2011
BY SUSAN PHILIPS
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says he will appeal a federal court decision granting a new sentencing hearing for convicted killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Abu-Jamal was convicted in 1982 of the shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
The Tuesday ruling from the U.S. appeals court is the latest in the decades-long courtroom saga involving the 58-year-old Abu-Jamal, a former journalist and Black Panther.
The case has garnered international attention, protests and books. On the one side are Abu-Jamal's supporters, who believe he is innocent. On the other side, are Faulkner's family and friends, who believe Abu-Jamal should be executed. After decades of appeals, Abu-Jamal remains on death-row.
While the Tuesday decision means Abu-Jamal might get a life sentence instead of the death penalty, it does not change his first-degree murder conviction.
The appeals court granted Abu-Jamal a new hearing after determining the original trial judge issued confusing instructions to the jury when it came to the sentencing phase.
Williams had appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court handed the case back to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which once again ruled Abu-Jamal deserves a new sentencing hearing.
Abu-Jamal's attorney, Judith Ritter, said four federal judges have now ruled that the sentencing phase of the trial was unconstitutional.
"In 2001, the death penalty was set aside. And we haven't been able to feel comfortable that that decision has stuck. And hearing the Third Circuit today, re-affirm its decision, it's very, very significant," she said, adding that she believes the ruling will stand.
Williams, who maintains the jury instructions were correct based on the law at that time, said when it comes to Abu-Jamal's case, it's not an issue of guilt or innocence.
"This is not a case of whodunit. The court of appeals ruled that this is not a new evidentiary hearing. That Mumia Abu-Jamal did in fact kill Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. The question is will we let him remain in jail or ask for the death penalty," Williams said.
Suzanne Ross, spokeswoman for the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, said the group wants "Mumia free and life in prison without parole is never what we wanted. But the looming threat of execution is not something we took lightly."
Williams said he spoke to Faulkner's widow, Maureen Faulkner, after the ruling. He said she is upset and wants his office to continue pursuing the death penalty.
Williams says it could take years to settle the issue.
"Of course it's a hot-button issue for Americans whether or not we should have the death penalty. But the fact is that the Supreme Court, the courts of appeals, ruled that clearly Mumia Abu Jamal killed Officer Faulkner," he said. "So I don't want to get into the whole comic book nature of people who think otherwise."
So just when is enough enough. Reminds me of the Rosenburgs, Black Panther, Communist.....
and the beat goes on. 'They" do so want to kill him, as so many Black men before him.
Posted by Morgan at 2:28 PM