[Ppnews] June 25 Hearing in the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 20 10:49:17 EDT 2013

For Interviews Contact:

*Pam Africa*, International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia 
Abu-Jamal: 267-760-7344*
Dr. Johanna Fernandez*, Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal: 917-930-0804*
Dr. Suzanne Ross*, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC): 212-927- 2924


On Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 11:30AM supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal will 
gather outside the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, 530 Walnut Street 
(17^th Floor), Philadelphia, to call for the release of the world 
renowned imprisoned journalist.

At 1:15PM that day, the Court will hear oral arguments on an appeal 
filed by Abu-Jamal challenging his resentencing from death to life in 
prison without parole. At issue is a motion filed by the President of 
the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Judge Pamela Dembe, that failed 
to notify the defendant or his attorneys of his resentencing. In so 
doing, Judge Dembe violated Abu-Jamal’s rights to notice of sentencing, 
to be present and make a statement, and to be apprised of his right to 
appeal the sentence. These rights are guaranteed by the U.S. 
Constitution and by the laws of the state of Pennsylvania. Had Abu-Jamal 
not discovered and filed a timely appeal to Judge Dembe’s motion, his 
right to file future appeals would have been irreparably compromised.

The unconstitutionality of Judge Dembe’s undisclosed filing echoes the 
history of due process violations in the Abu-Jamal case, which spans 
more than three decades. In the original trial the judge, prosecutor, 
and police conspired to suppress evidence of innocence and to obtain a 
conviction. The prosecution's case was built on the specious premise 
that only three people were present at the time of the shooting, but a 
fourth person – the probable perpetrator – was seen fleeing the scene 
after Officer Daniel Faulkner was fatally shot. The police, prosecutor 
Joe McGill, and presiding judge Albert Sabo suppressed this from both 
the defense and jury. In addition, the bullet that killed Officer 
Faulkner was never matched to Abu-Jamal’s gun, and police failed to 
perform routine tests on Abu-Jamal’s hands, which would have determined 
that he had not shot a gun that night.

Judicial bias, impropriety and contempt for the defendant also figure 
prominently in this history. At the original trial, Judge Sabo twice 
refused to recuse himself: when his impartiality as a former Under 
Sheriff of Philadelphia County was questioned; and again,  when he came 
out of retirement to hear Mumia’s 1995 Post Conviction Relief Act 
Hearing—the most important appeals hearing in the case--on the judicial 
and prosecutorial violations of the very case over which he presided 15 
years earlier.

Similarly, in 1998, Judge Ron Castille of the Pennsylvania State Supreme 
Court was asked to recuse himself from the case; in his previous role as 
Philadelphia DA he presided over numerous challenges to Abu-Jamal’s 
appeals, including the claim of racial discrimination in jury selection. 
Castille’s unethical conduct was later exposed because his name and the 
seal of his office were stamped on the so-called McMahon tapes, 
discovered in 1997. The tapes were instructional lectures to new 
prosecutors on how to eliminate jurors unlikely to convict. In violation 
of /Batson v. Kentucky/, some instructions suggested elimination on the 
basis of race, one of Abu-Jamal’s strongest claims for a new trial. 
Abu-Jamal’s attorneys called for Judge Castille’s recusal in hearing 
Abu-Jamal’s appeal and petition for a new trial because the judge had 
received financial contributions and support from the Fraternal Order of 
Police (FOP). In a written defense refusing to do so, he explained that 
four other judges out of the seven-judge panel received FOP funding.

In 2008, acknowledging the unequal application of the law in the case of 
Abu-Jamal, Judge Thomas Ambro of the Third Circuit Court wrote that the 
decision to deny Abu-Jamal the so-called /Batson/ claim of 
discrimination in jury selection “goes against the grain of our prior 
actions.” In previous cases with exactly the same claims, the court had 
granted new trial relief to the defendants, but this time it ruled 
against Mumia in a two to one decision that overturned the court’s own 

In 2011, Abu-Jamal’s death sentence was confirmed unconstitutional when 
a Supreme Court motion allowed to stand the past rulings of four federal 
judges who had as early as 2001 set aside the death penalty in this 
case. In late 2011, Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for Abu-Jamal’s 
release -- /"Now that it is clear that Mumia should never have been on 
death row in the first place, justice will not be served by relegating 
him to prison for the rest of his life….Based on even a minimal 
following of international human rights standards, Mumia must now be 
released….District Attorney Seth Williams [should] rise to the challenge 
of reconciliation, human rights, and justice: drop this case now, and 
allow Mumia Abu-Jamal to be immediately released."/

Because for more than 28 years Abu-Jamal was wrongly subjected to 
inhumane conditions on death row, because he is innocent, because he has 
been consistently denied his Fifth Amendment right to a fair trial, and 
because of the uninterrupted history of judicial and prosecutorial 
corruption and police conspiracy in this case, his supporters call for 
Mumia Abu-Jamal’s immediate release.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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