[Pnews] Pennsylvania - Preliminary Injunction Filed to Prevent “Silencing Act” from Stopping Prisoners’ Speech

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 9 13:04:17 EST 2015

      Preliminary Injunction Filed to Prevent “Silencing Act” from
      Stopping Prisoners’ Speech**

*Continuing the Fight Against the Silencing Act, Prisoners and Advocacy 
*Seek Injunctive Relief to Stop Enforcement NOW*

January 8, 2015 - A motion for a preliminary injunction was filed today 
in the ongoing lawsuit, Abu-Jamal v. Kane, challenging a Pennsylvania 
censorship law intended to silence Mumia Abu-Jamal and others convicted 
of personal injury crimes.

The Abolitionist Law Center, Amistad Law Project, and the Roderick and 
Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University School of 
Law filed the preliminary injunction motion to stop enforcement of the 
law. The law firms represent Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio, Educators 
for Mumia Abu-Jamal, Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall, Robert L. Holbrook, 
Donnell Palmer, Anthony Chance, and Human Rights Coalition in the 
lawsuit filed November 10, 2014 against Attorney General Kathleen Kane 
and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. The American Civil 
Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU) filed a similar lawsuit 
and preliminary injunction today.

The Silencing Act, also known as 18 P.S. § 11.1304, allows the Attorney 
General, county District Attorneys, and victims of personal injury 
crimes to bring a lawsuit in civil court against the person convicted of 
the personal injury crime to enjoin conduct that “perpetuates the 
continuing effect of the crime on the victim”. The actions that could 
prompt a lawsuit include “conduct which causes a temporary or permanent 
state of mental anguish.”

“This law is unconstitutional,” said David Shapiro of MacArthur Justice 
Center. “The facts are on our side and the law is on our side. The 
Silencing Act targets a huge amount of constitutionally protected speech 
based on who is speaking.”

After a prerecorded commencement speech by journalist and prisoner Mumia 
Abu-Jamal was played for graduates at Goddard College in Vermont, the 
Pennsylvania legislature passed and outgoing Governor Corbett signed 
into law the Silencing Act on October 21st, 16 days after the 
commencement speech.

Abu-Jamal has spent 33 years in prison, 29 of which were in solitary 
confinement on death row after being convicted at a 1982 trial that 
Amnesty International said “failed to meet minimum international 
standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings.”

Robert L. Holbrook, who is serving a death by incarceration, life 
without parole, sentence he received as a child, had this to say about 
the law: “there are people in prison who will stop writing, stop 
publishing, stop speaking out because of this law.”

“Silencing prisoners is one more way of dehumanizing them,” said Amistad 
Law Project 
Director Nikki Grant. “We need the voices of the marginalized to shed 
light on injustice.”

Plaintiffs’ Brief in Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction in 
/Jamal v. Kane / 


Noelle Hanrahan globalaudiopi at gmail.com 
<mailto:globalaudiopi at gmail.com>                                    
Bret Grote bretgrote at abolitionistlawcenter.org 
<mailto:bretgrote at abolitionistlawcenter.org>                  412-654-9070
Ashley Henderson ashley at amistadlaw.org 
<mailto:ashley at amistadlaw.org>215-310-0424
David Shapiro david.shapiro at law.northwestern.edu 
<mailto:david.shapiro at law.northwestern.edu>                  312-503-0711

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