[Ppnews] State Supreme Court Rejects Mumia Abu-Jamal
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Feb 20 10:44:15 EST 2008
From Hans Bennett/Sis. Fatirah
This is NOT the decision from the 3rd
Circuit Court. It is a separate appeal
with the State Supreme Court.
Mumia Abu-Jamal Loses Bid for Hearing
highest appeals court has rejected a request by convicted killer Mumia
Abu-Jamal (moo-MEE'-ah AH'-boo jah-MAHL') for a hearing into his claims that
witnesses in his case perjured themselves.
The state Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a unanimous ruling saying the
former Black Panther and radio reporter waited too long to file a
post-conviction appeal in the matter.
Abu-Jamal was convicted of shooting to death Philadelphia Police Officer
Daniel Faulkner in 1981. A federal judge in 2001 overturned Abu-Jamal's death
sentence but upheld his conviction.
His case has attracted international notoriety. A separate appeal in the
case, regarding claims of racial bias and faulty jury instructions, is pending
before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
---FROM: Associated Press, Tues, Feb. 19
For background on this appeal, see these 2 previous articles from
PA Supreme Court rejects Mumia Abu-Jamal's PCRA appeal
--Critics say the ruling is unjust
By Hans Bennett (Abu-Jamal-News.com)
On Tuesday, February 19, in a ruling unrelated to the pending US Third
Circuit Court decision <http://www.abu-jamal-news.com/temp/May17Audio.html>,
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected death row journalist Mumia
Abu-Jamal's appeal of a 2005 ruling by Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
Judge Pamela Dembe, which denied Abu-Jamal's Post Conviction Relief Act
(PCRA) petition, on grounds that it was not "timely." (See reports by
This recent PCRA petition was based on
witnesses that did not testify at the original 1982 trial: Yvette
Williams and Kenneth Pate. Yvette Williams states that key prosecution
witness Cynthia White told her that she had been coerced by police into
giving false testimony against Abu-Jamal. Defense witnesses Veronica Jones
and Pamela Jenkins have given similar accounts of Cynthia White's coerced
testimony against Abu-Jamal. As *Amnesty International* has documented,
White's alleged eye-witness account was altered, as each subsequent account
given to police further served to support the prosecution scenario used to
convict Abu-Jamal. Kenneth Pate says that prosecution witness Priscilla
Durham confided to him that she had also lied in court when she stated that
she's heard Abu-Jamal confess at the hospital. Even before Pate's affidavit,
Durham's account was very suspicious.
The alleged "hospital confession," where Abu-Jamal reportedly declared, "I
shot the motherf***er and I hope the motherf***er dies," was first
officially reported to police over two months later, by hospital guards
Priscilla Durham and James LeGrand (Feb. 9, 1982), P.O. Gary Wakshul (Feb.11),
P.O. Gary Bell (Feb.25), and P.O. Thomas M. Bray (March 1). Only 2 of these
five witnesses were called by the DA: Gary Bell (Faulkner's partner and
"best friend") and Priscilla Durham.
At trial, Gary Bell testified that the 2 month lapse resulted from him being
so upset over the death of Faulkner. Priscilla Durham testified, and added
for the first time, that she had reported the confession to her supervisor
the next day. Neither her supervisor, nor the alleged handwritten statement
were presented in court. The DA sent an officer to the hospital, returning
with a suspicious typed version. Sabo accepted the paper (not signed)
despite both Durham's disavowal, and the defense's protest that authorship
and authenticity were unproven.
For more on Kenneth Pate and Yvette Williams, please see German author
Michael Schiffmann's 2005 analysis
<http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=8603> of Judge Pamela
RESPONSES TO THE COURT'S DECISION Immediately following Tuesday's news, I
asked several people to respond to the court's decision: Pam Africa, Robert
R. Bryan, Dave Lindorff, Michael Schiffmann, and Linn Washington Jr.
**Coordinator of The International Concerned Family and Friends of
I am not shocked by this decision. The PA Supreme Court has never ruled
fairly in Mumia's case, especially with former Philadelphia DA Ron
This should wake people up to see the injustice in Mumia's case. Why can
the media report so quickly on this decision, but not report on the newly
discovered crime scene photos? These photos are serious evidence, but the
media has ignored them.
The media and courts are complicit in the railroading of Mumia.
I urge readers to please help fight the media bias by going to
Abu-Jamal-News.com to see the new photo evidence, downloading the
information, and spreading the word, at this urgent time in Mumia's case.
*ROBERT R. BRYAN*
*San Francisco, Lead Counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal*
Mumia and I had a long conference this afternoon, shortly after the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court made its ruling. We were not surprised since
that court has a history of not addressing the racism and fraud that has
dominated the prosecution since its inception over a quarter of a century
ago. By dismissing the appeal on procedural grounds, the court avoided
dealing with the compelling facts establishing that the prosecution of my
client was based upon lies, half-truths, and bigotry. It is sad that the
state court used possible mistakes of the previous lawyers in the case as an
excuse to dodge the truth.
This state ruling has no bearing on the the proceedings pending in the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. If the federal decision is
favorable, then the Pennsylvania Supreme Court judgment will be moot.
Otherwise, I plan to seek relief in the U.S. Supreme Court. I will not rest
until Mumia is free.
LINN WASHINGTON JR.
--Philadelphia Tribune Columnist, Temple University Professor of
Journalism, and graduate of the Yale Law Journalism Fellowship Program
This ruling is sad but not surprising. It continues the infamous
Pennsylvania Supreme Court tradition in the Abu-Jamal case of abusing law to
block justice. Until this Court grants a new trial to Abu-Jamal where both
sides can fairly present evidence, any ruling it issues is legally corrupt.
--Author of "Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia
Courage Press, 2003)
It comes as no surprise to hear that the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court
has rejected yet another appeal by Mumia Abu-Jamal, the state's
longest-surviving death row prisoner. The court, which is led by former
Philadelphia D.A. Ron Castille (who helped fight Abu-Jamal's appeals in his
role as DA and has yet to recuse himself from decisions involving this
case), has never issued a ruling favorable to Abu-Jamal.
That said, it is clear that the prosecution's case was rampant with examples
of suborned perjury, from the belated and choreographed lies by police about
having heard a shouted out confession in the hospital--an event no nurse or
attending physician heard, and which police at the time curiously failed to
note in their reports on the evening's events, to "eye-witness" testimony
from a taxi driver whose taxi nobody remembers seeing where he said it
was--parked directly behind Officer Daniel Faulkner's car. And of course
more recently we have the newly discovered news photos showing police
tampering with the evidence at the very scene of the crime.
In a fair world, this case would have been tossed out long ago, but as the
PA Supreme Court has demonstrated yet again, we do not live in a fair world.
DR. MICHAEL SCHIFFMANN
Linguist at The University of Heidelberg, co-founder of Journalists for
Mumia, and the author of "Race Against Death; Mumia Abu-Jamal: a Black
Revolutionary in White America"
The original decision in May/June 2005 by Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela
Dembe to dismiss Mumia Abu-Jamal's 3rd PCRA petition was already a travesty
of justice. Everything in that decision was tailored to deny Abu-Jamal
relief. After sitting on the case for almost four years, the judge deciding
it evidently didn't have a clue about the most elementary facts.
That was not necessary, though; all that was needed was to twist the law in
such a way that Abu-Jamal wound never have a chance, regardless of what he
Abu-Jamal's 3rd PCRA petition presented testimony by two witnesses that
attacked the arguably two single-most important prosecution witnesses at the
June/July 1982 Abu-Jamal trial, prostitute Cynthia White and hospital
security guard Priscilla Durham. As discussed extensively in work on our
and elsewhere, not least in many, many
defense briefs, these witnesses were highly incredible even without that new
All the same, it was crucially important: New witness Yvette Williams
testified that Cynthia White had been blackmailed into fingering Abu-Jamal
as the murderer by death threats on the part of the police, and new witness
Kenneth Pate testified that Durham had been peer-pressured by the police
into falsely accusing Abu-Jamal of having boasted about having "shot the
motherfucker" Daniel Faulkner and hoping he would die.
If proven in court, these two new claims in themselves would be enough to
prove that the case against Abu-Jamal was hopelessly contaminated right from
the start and to explode it once and for all.
By bending even the reactionary new Clinton-era laws to expedite the
application of the death penalty out of shape, Judge Dembe at the time
concluded that the new evidence was not presented in a "timely" fashion. The
Pennsylvania Supreme Court now does the same, inventing yet other and
different reasons why the evidence is "untimely."
It's not worth going again into the "legal" forks and angles of that new
decision. It's a repeat performance of the 2005 Dembe decision which I
analyzed at the time and which got a worthy response by the defense, as we
now see without avail. What simmers through in every line of those decisions
is that one thing always left unsaid: "WE ARE AFRAID OF THE FACTS."
But those facts won't go away, if we fight to disseminate them, to get them
out into the public sphere, and to have them finally heard on court. That is
the most urgent task in the weeks and months to come.
*JOURNALISTS FOR MUMIA* RELEASES NEW VIDEO: "This government, using
corporate media, is laying the groundwork for a murder."
The "Murdered by Mumia?" press conference has just been made into a short
video. (VIEW PARTS ONE
This is also available UNEDITED in two parts on Google Video
2/2 <http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3134016139770868283>) and in
11 parts on You Tube: Hans Bennett<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RHikvGyaOM>,
David A. Love <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7ZwKUIX2Jg>, Dave Lindorff (
Linn Washington, Jr. (1/2
Pam Africa (1/2 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKjM_EIVh0s>,
and questions about The Polakoff Photos
2/2 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Y6Mm9ZKLlY>), Media
and The May 17 Oral Arguments <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iBfYcfRiXI>.
Our recent slideshow presentation of the Polakoff photos is now also
available separately on You
Along with The SF Bay
the photos have now been spotlighted by
NBC's Today Show
Public Radio <http://www.opednews.com/maxwrite/diarypage.php?did=5165>,
Counterpunch <http://www.counterpunch.org/washington12082007.html>, The
Philadelphia Tribune <http://phillyimc.org/en/2007/12/43698.shtml>, The
Workers World <http://www.workers.org/2007/us/mumia-1220/>, and The
Philadelphia Weekly <http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/articles/16027>.
---For more information, please visit the new Journalists for Mumia
Also visit: FreeMumia.com <http://freemumia.com/> (NYC Coalition to Free
Mumia), FreeMumia.org <http://freemumia.org/> (San Francisco Mobilization to
Free Mumia), EmajOnline.com <http://emajonline.com/> (Educators for Mumia),
PrisonRadio.org <http://prisonradio.org/> (Mumia's Radio Essays), or
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143 Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - *icffmaj at aol.com*
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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