[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
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.
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