[Ppnews] Why the November 9 Hearing on Mumia is so critical

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 28 10:24:14 EDT 2010


WHY THE NOVEMBER 9, 2010 HEARING ON MUMIA IS SO CRITICAL
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition
<http://www.freemumia.com/>www.freemumia.com
<mailto:info%40freemumia.com>info at freemumia.com (212)330-8029

The only legal options to be considered at the Third Circuit's 
November 9 hearing are whether Mumia Abu-Jamal is to be executed or 
get life in prison without parole. Clearly neither of those two 
options is acceptable.

To fully grasp the significance of the hearing, one needs to revisit 
Federal District Court Judge William Yohn, Jr.'s decision of December 
18, 2001. In that ruling the judge upheld Mumia's conviction but at 
the same time threw out his death sentence on the grounds that the 
verdict form used by the jury for sentencing at his trial violated 
the U.S. Supreme Court's Mills precedent and therefore entitled Mumia 
to have his death sentence overturned. Yohn then gave the state 180 
days to convene a new jury trial only on the issue of Mumia's 
penalty, in which the choices would be either death or life in prison 
without parole. On the other hand, if the state did nothing, Yohn 
ruled that Mumia would automatically be sentenced to life in prison 
without parole.

At the time Judge Yohn stayed his ruling on the death sentence while 
the state appealed his decision to the next higher level of federal 
court, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. (At the same time Mumia 
cross-appealed Judge Yohn's decision upholding Mumia's conviction.) 
Mumia was therefore never removed from Death row and remains there to 
this day.

On March 27, 2008, the Third Circuit upheld Yohn's decision on the 
death penalty on a 3-0 vote. Again the decision was stayed while the 
state appealed to the highest federal level, the Supreme Court. (In 
the same decision, the Third Circuit rejected Mumia's appeal on the 
conviction by 2-1 and, as before, Mumia cross-appealed that ruling.)

On January 10, 2010, the Supreme Court ordered the Third Circuit to 
reconsider its decision on the death sentence in light of its 
simultaneously-issued ruling unanimously rejecting an appeal from a 
white-supremacist named Spisak. That man admitted to killing at least 
two people in Ohio and openly wished to have murdered more. He had 
appealed his death sentence also as a violation of Mills, but 
involving a different aspect of it than Mumia's case. The Sixth 
Circuit, as did the Third Circuit in Mumia's case, ruled that the 
death sentence should be vacated, but the Supreme Court ruled that 
the Mills precedent did not apply in Spisak's case, and that 
therefore execution rather than life in prison was the appropriate 
penalty. Based on that decision, the Supreme Court immediately 
applied the same argument to Mumia's case and asked for the Third 
Circuit to reconsider the issue of execution for Mumia as well.

Thus, the hearing on November 9th is on Mumia's penalty only. The 
choices before the court are either to sustain Yohn's and its own 
earlier decisions or to reinstate the death penalty, clearing the way 
for Mumia's possible quick execution.

If the Third Circuit reaffirms its earlier decision to sentence Mumia 
to life in prison without parole, the state will most likely appeal 
to the Supreme Court. (This is exactly what happened with Spisak, 
after the Sixth Circuit upheld its own earlier ruling which had 
overturned the man's death sentence.) But in the unlikely event that 
the state doesn't appeal, it will then have 180 days to implement 
Judge Yohn's decision.

Of course if the Third Circuit rules against Mumia, he will appeal to 
the Supreme Court. However, the odds for relief are small, given the 
increasingly reactionary nature of that court.

Thus, Mumia's legal situation is extremely dangerous. His life truly 
is on the line, for no matter how the court rules, the only two 
choices under this legal system are either execution or life in 
prison without parole and, for the moment, the prosecution, with all 
its allies and backers, is fighting very hard for execution.

THAT'S WHY WE ARE CALLING FOR ALL THOSE WHO POSSIBLY CAN TO COME OUT 
TO PHILADELPHIA WITH US ON THE 9TH. WE MUST STAY THE HANDS OF THE 
EXECUTIONERS AND PRY OPEN THE PRISON GATES FOR MUMIA'S RELEASE.

FREE MUMIA!
ABOLISH THE RACIST DEATH PENALTY!
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!

To make reservations for bus tickets to Philadelphia on November 9th, 
call 212 330-8029.



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