[Ppnews] Mumia - Supreme Court grants an appeal by prosecutors

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 19 12:04:26 EST 2010

U.S. court sends back Abu-Jamal death penalty case

Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:53am EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday granted an 
appeal by prosecutors and set aside a ruling that invalidated the 
death sentence of black political activist Mumia Abu-Jamal for the 
1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer.

His case has become a prominent cause for many death penalty opponents.

In a brief order, the Supreme Court sent the case back to a U.S. 
appeals court based in Philadelphia for further consideration in view 
of the high court's recent decision in an Ohio case that had raised 
similar issues.

The Supreme Court in the Ohio case unanimously reinstated the death 
sentence of a neo-Nazi convicted of murdering three men. The court's 
action, which was not a ruling on the merits of the case, could lead 
to Abu-Jamal's death sentence being reinstated, too.

The appeals court had ruled that Abu-Jamal, 55, deserved a new 
sentencing hearing because of flawed jury instructions.

Abu-Jamal, a former member of the Black Panthers militant group, was 
convicted and sentenced to death in 1982 for murdering white 
Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in an early morning 
confrontation on December 9, 1981.

The officer was shot after stopping Abu-Jamal's brother for driving 
the wrong way down a Philadelphia street. Abu-Jamal, a former radio 
reporter who was arrested at the scene, has maintained his innocence.

Abu-Jamal's jailhouse writings about the justice system have drawn 
the attention of many people around the world. His case attracted the 
support of many death penalty opponents, foreign political leaders 
and Hollywood celebrities.

The flaw in the jury instructions related to whether the jurors 
understood how to weigh mitigating circumstances that could have 
resulted in a sentence other than the death penalty. Under the law, 
jurors did not have to agree unanimously on the mitigating circumstances.

Prosecutors appealed to the Supreme Court the part of the appeals 
court decision that invalidated Abu-Jamal's death sentence. The 
Supreme Court last year let stand the part of the decision that 
upheld Abu-Jamal's murder conviction.

(Editing by 

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