[Pnews] Pennsylvania Supreme Court Smacks Abu-Jamal Again

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Mar 4 14:57:10 EST 2020


  Pennsylvania Supreme Court Smacks Abu-Jamal Again

Linn Washington Jr 04 Mar 2020

The Justices used extraordinary authority to delay Mumia’s appeal of his 
murder conviction.

*/“The /**/request for King's Bench intervention came from the widow of 
Officer Daniel Faulkner.”/*

Recently the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania again underscored its 
willingness to impede justice in the contentious case of imprisoned 
journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal through issuance of an unusual decision that 
utilized a rarely employed power of that court.

Pennsylvania's highest court used its King's Bench authority to order an 
investigation into conflict of interest charges against the District 
Attorney's Office in Philadelphia leveled by avowed enemies of Abu-Jamal.

Those opponents, in their request to the Pa Supreme Court, included a 
claim that Philadelphia's DA Office was not aggressive enough in its 
opposition to appeals filed by this inmate convicted in 1982 for murder 
of a Philadelphia policeman. Opponents want the DA's Office removed from 
the case.

*/“Abu Jamal’s opponents /**/claim that Philadelphia's DA Office was not 
aggressive enough in its opposition to appeals.”/*

Many across the U.S. and internationally view Abu-Jamal as a political 

One consequence of that uncommon investigation ordered by the Supreme 
Court is to further delay deliberations on an appeal pending for 
Abu-Jamal that ironically centers on instances of misconduct against 
Abu-Jamal by a member of the Pa Supreme Court.

King's Bench is an extraordinary authority exercised by the highest 
courts in only a few states. It permits those courts to override the 
ordinary legal process. Pennsylvania Supreme Court rulings limit King's 
Bench to issues of "public importance" that require timely intervention. 
As a general legal principle, King's Bench is not appropriate for an 
individual or group simply displeased with a governmental action

Last fall the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected King's Bench relief 
for two inmates who argued the death penalty violated the cruel 
punishment prohibition in Pennsylvania's state Constitution. One of 
those inmates has languished in death row isolation for 25-years. A 
Pennsylvania Supreme Court commission appointed in 1999 documented flaws 
and racial bias in Pa's death penalty, findings similar to those of a 
2018 Pa legislative task force.

*/“Supreme Court rulings limit King's Bench to issues of ‘public 
importance’ that require timely intervention.”/*

While Pennsylvania's highest court did not deem death penalty injustices 
of public importance it did grant a King's Bench request based on 
displeasure against Philadelphia's DA Office from an individual and a 
group long engaged in a revenge campaign against Abu-Jamal.

Compounding this atypical King's Bench intervention is the fact that it 
took nearly three months from initial request to Court approval, not the 
promptness that 'timely intervention' into a matter of true public 
importance would seemingly require.

That request for King's Bench intervention came from the widow of 
Officer Daniel Faulkner, the murdered policeman in the Abu-Jamal case. 
The widow's constant supporter is Philadelphia's Fraternal Order of 
Police (FOP), the police union notorious for its persistent backing of 
brutal and racist officers.

Brutality and wrongdoing by police are issues in the Abu-Jamal case 
along with prosecutorial misconduct and judicial improprieties -- issues 
rejected by Pennsylvania's Supreme Court despite startling documentation.

*/“The court granted a request /**/from an individual and a group long 
engaged in a revenge campaign against Abu-Jamal.”/*

An Amnesty International report on the Abu-Jamal case issued in 2000 
criticized FOP influence over Pennsylvania's highest court.

That AI report noted, "the Court's own rulings on Abu-Jamal's appeals 
have left the unfortunate impression that the state Supreme Court may 
have been unable to impartially adjudicate this controversial case."

That Abu-Jamal appeal now delayed by the King's Bench intervention 
involved alleged improper participation in Abu-Jamal appeals by a former 
Philadelphia District Attorney, Ronald Castille, who served as a Pa 
Supreme Court Justice and Chief Justice.

Castille, as DA, opposed Abu-Jamal's appeals and later as Supreme Court 
member voted repeatedly against Abu-Jamal appeals.

Castille rejected Abu-Jamal's request to recuse himself from appeal 
deliberations despite specific directive in the state's Code of Judicial 
Conduct that "a judge formerly employed by a governmental agency should 
disqualify himself if his impartiality might reasonably be questioned 
because of such association."

*/“An /**/Amnesty International report found that the state Supreme 
Court may have been unable to impartially adjudicate this controversial 
case." /*

In a 1998 Pa Supreme Court ruling that rejected a pivotal Abu-Jamal 
appeal, Castille rejected recusal with the specious declaration that he 
did not know any facts about the Abu-Jamal case.

Castille wrote in that 1998 ruling that he signed his name to DA 
opposition merely as an administrative matter and he gained no 
"knowledge of information" about the Abu-Jamal case in his tenure as DA.

Yet, years before that 1998 Castille declaration a top DA Office aide to 
Castille told a reporter that Castille was deeply involved in all death 
penalty and high-profile cases -- both categories applicable to Abu-Jamal.

Castille also wrote in that 1998 ruling that his career long support 
from Philadelphia's FOP did not impact his ability to be impartial in 
the Abu-Jamal case. Castille received electoral campaign support from 
the FOP in his races for DA, his unsuccessful race for Philadelphia's 
mayor and his successful campaign for the Pa Supreme Court.

*/“Castille received electoral campaign support from the FOP.”/*

In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that declared it 
improper for a prosecutor that sought the death penalty against a 
defendant to rule against that defendant's appeal as a judge. That 
ruling involved Ron Castille in a Philadelphia murder case, tried during 
Castille's DA tenure where Castille as Supreme Court member rejected 
that convict's appeal.

In 2018, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker cited that 
2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling against Castille when he granted 
Abu-Jamal the right to a new appeal hearing.

The Tucker ruling noted, "The claim of bias, prejudice and refusal of 
former Justice Castille to recuse himself is worthy of consideration as 
true justice must be completely just without even a hint of partiality, 
lack of integrity or impropriety."

That King's Bench request from the slain officer's widow criticized the 
Philadelphia DA Office for its failure to oppose having Tucker involved 
in further actions in the Abu-Jamal case.

*/Linn Washington is a co-founder of /**/This Can't Be 
Happening.net/*<https://thiscantbehappening.net/>*/. Washington writes 
frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society 
and problems in the news media. He teaches multi-media urban journalism 
at Temple University./*

*/This article previously appeared in /**/Op-Ed 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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