Mumia Abu-Jamal's long struggle for freedom and justice gained crucial ground. He will get a new hearing to appeal his conviction for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia policeman.
Abu-Jamal, now 64, had his death sentence commuted to life in prison in 2011, but the fight to overturn his conviction continues to draw international support. "Free Mumia!" has for decades been a rallying cry for justice against a racist criminal justice system.
In December 2018 he won the right to appeal his 1982 conviction because of biased judicial oversight by Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille.
Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner dropped his opposition to the appeal, opening a potential — though far from assured — avenue to freedom for Abu-Jamal, an outcome that had previously seemed impossible.
In January, Krasner's office decided to fight Abu-Jamal's appeal stating at the time that the move was "a narrow, technical decision in one sense, but incredibly complex and nuanced and affects many other cases". The latest shift is a welcome one, not least because Abu-Jamal's grounds for new appeals certainly go beyond the technical.
The reasons for the defense's new appeal relates to a recusal issue. Former Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald Castille had been Philadelphia's D.A. as Abu-Jamal initially tried to overcome his conviction. Then Castille, who supports the death penalty and has ties to police unions, heard Abu-Jamal's case between the years of 1998 to 2012 as chief justice. Abu-Jamal's attorneys argued that Castille should have recused himself from presiding as a judge over a case in which he was the prosecutor.
Krasner's decision this week made no judgement on the activist's original conviction, but removes a crucial hurdle enabling a historic injustice to be legally challenged.
Krasner claimed that the ruling, from Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker, risked reopening many hundreds of cases wherein a judge had at one time been a prosecutor.
Last month, however, Tucker rewrote and narrowed his opinion in such a way that continued to grant Abu-Jamal new appeals but allayed the district attorney's concern about the possible consequence of reopening many other cases.
The judge's opinion, which vacates the appeal denials from 1998 to 2012, followed a Supreme Court precedent that also involved Castille. Tucker said that an impartial appeal process is violated if a prosecutor who had significant personal involvement in the case is later a judge in the same matter.
The changes Tucker made in his modified opinion makes clear that being a former prosecutor alone is not grounds for recusal, but Castille's involvement as a prosecutor rose to the level of "significant personal involvement".
As an instance of potential bias, Tucker cited a letter Castille had sent in 1990 urging the governor's office to issue death warrants for all police killers.
Stand with Mumia on Dec. 13. The Evidence WILL be heard! 22 Years is Enough! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!!!
Saturday, December 13th, 2003, Stand With Mumia in Philadelphia Rally, March, Conference for freedom fighter brother Mumia Abu-Jamal
Rally at 10:00am at 7th & Fairmount Streets, at the Friends Neighborhood Guild. This is the neighborhood where Mumia grew up.
March at 11:00am to Benjamin Franklin High School, Broad and Green Streets. This was Mumia's high school, where he was given his name by his teacher Timone Ombina and waged a struggle to have the school's named changed to Malcolm X High School.
Indoor Conference and Rally at 1:00pm at the High School. Hear the evidence that the courts refused to admit in the recent PA Supreme Court Rejection of the motions of Mumia's attorneys. Learn about government terrorism and intimidation against witnesses!
Legal presentations by attorneys Sam Jordan and Michael Coard.
Hear from witnesses in Mumia's case like Terri Maurer-Carter, Veronica Jones
Be present for a possible appearance by Arnold Beverly, the man who has confessed to the killing of officer Daniel Faulkner and has passed two lie detector tests regarding his testimony-yet the courts refuse to hear his testimony and will not arrest him, despite his insistence that he assassinated Faulkner--not Mumia--during a police/mob hit on the officer because of Faulkner's interference with police involvement in drug and prostitution rings in Center City Philadelphia in the early 1980's.
For more information please call 215-476-8812, or e-mail email@example.com ICFFMAJ freemumia.com
December 9, 2003 will mark the 22nd anniversary of the day Mumia was shot, beaten and almost killed by police as the frame up against him began. Mumia has spent 22 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. Mumia continues to be the "Voice of the Voiceless," most recently speaking out eloquently about victims of U.S. war and terrorism.
Massive evidence has surfaced since the PCRA hearings in 1995 and 1996 proving Mumia's innocence: a compelling confession by Arnold Beverly that he shot Officer Faulkner-not Mumia; a testimony that corroborates important details of his confession from former FBI agent Donald Hersing, and several affidavits that support Beverly's account. Court reporter Terri Maurer-Carter has signed an affidavit stating she heard Judge Sabo, Mumia's original judge, say "I'm going to help them fry the nigger" in 1982 during Mumia's trial.
Federal Judge Yohn has rejected a petition for confessed killer Arnold Beverly to testify, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has also rejected both the Beverly confession and Terri Maurer-Carter's statement proving Judge Sabo's blatant racism.
Mumia is now fighting his last battle in the court system. If Mumia does not get justice now, he could be legally murdered by the U.S. government just like Shaka Sankofa: innocent, Black, poor and revolutionary. Only the power of the people can force the government to free Mumia. Join us on December 13th in Philadelphia!
PHILADELPHIA, March 11, 2002. Mumia Abu-Jamal's attorneys charged the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office with "faking the death" of key prosecution witness Cynthia White in legal briefs filed today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and last Friday in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The attorneys argue in the briefs that, "As the frame-up of Mumia Abu-Jamal is increasingly coming apart at the seams, the District Attorney in her desperation to keep the evidence which proves Mumia's innocence from being heard has now gone so far as to resurrect the hoax of Cynthia White's supposed death."
According to Mumia's attorneys, during 1997 state court hearings before Judge Sabo the District Attorneys' Office tried to pass off three stapled together pages from three different documents as an official New Jersey death certificate for Cynthia White. The name on the death certificate was "Cynthia Williams, aka Mildred Saunders," and the Social Security number turned out to belong to a woman named Migdalia Cruz who was born in Puerto Rico in 1957. When challenged to provide fingerprint evidence that the dead body was actually that of Cynthia White, the D.A. called as a witness a New Jersey police officer who brought into court a fingerprint card with the dead woman's fingerprints.
But the officer admitted on cross-examination that the fingerprint identifiers did not correspond to Cynthia White's fingerprints. In other words, the fingerprint evidence proved that the dead woman was not Cynthia White. In their legal briefs, Mumia's attorneys argue that the District Attorney recently injected the hoax of Cynthia White's death into Mumia's appeals in a desperate attempt to keep the evidence which proves Mumia's innocence out of the courtroom and, specifically, to defeat their motion to send the case back to Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe to take testimony in open court from Yvette Williams. Williams, in a sworn statement recently filed in Mumia's state and federal appeals, says that she was in jail with Cynthia White in December 1981 soon after Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was killed and that White told Williams the police forced her to testify that Mumia had shot Faulkner even though White did not see the shooting.
According to Williams, Cynthia White was in the area of 13th and Locust when the shooting took place, but was high on drugs and did not see the shooting. In other developments, eminent California attorney Michael Yamamoto filed a "friend of the court" brief in the federal court of appeals in Philadelphia supporting Mumia's claim that he is innocent of the murder of Officer Faulkner. According to Yamamoto, his own independent review of the evidence reveals that Mumia Abu-Jamal was "wrongfully convicted based upon the testimony of unreliable witnesses, all of whom were either inherently suspect at the outset or subsequently shown to be testifying falsely."
Yamamoto concludes that the evidence at trial, when combined with the new evidence that has recently come out, "can be shown to overwhelmingly support" Mumia Abu-Jamal's innocence.
Yamamoto is the immediate past president of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, a specialized bar association of over 2,000 of California's top criminal defense attorneys. He was recently appointed to the California Judicial Council's task force on jury improvement by the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning African-American journalist, the author of several books, and a political prisoner currently sitting on Pennsylvania's Death Row. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the alleged murder of a white policeman on December 9, 1981, in a trial defined by prosecutorial, judicial, and even defense attorney misconduct.
Mumia became politically involved in struggles for justice at the age of 14 as a co-founder of the Philadelphia Black Panther Party. As a journalist and radio broadcaster, Mumia used his talents to expose the systemic oppression of ordinary people whose stories would otherwise remain untold; for this he was called the "Voice of the Voiceless." Mumia was elected President of the Association of Black Journalists. For these actions, he gained the loathing of the corrupt Philadelphia "powers" and police. On the evening of December 9, 1981, Mumia came upon the murder scene of a police officer. Upon arrival at the scene Mumia was shot by a police officer and nearly killed.
International and U.S. notables and prestigious organizations, including Amnesty International, the Congressional Black Caucus, the European Parliament, members of the British Parliament, and millions across the world all agree: Mumia never had a fair trial. Eyewitnesses testifying against the police version were coerced to change their accounts; evidence proving Mumia's innocence was hidden from the defense. Judge Albert Sabo openly expressed his hatred of Mumia (court stenographer Terri Maurer-Carter heard the judge say "Yeah, and I'm going to help them fry the nigger") and conspired with the prosecution.
In 1999 a man named Arnold Beverly confessed to the murder that Mumia is on death row for. His confession is backed up by a lie detector test and he is willing to testify at any time. Outrageously, the courts have refused to bring him in. On December 18th, 2001 Federal Court Judge Yohn made a decision which upheld Mumia's unjust conviction but challenged the death sentence. However, Mumia is still on death row. There could be a new sentencing hearing where the only options would be life in prison without parole or the death penalty. This is not just, Mumia is absolutely innocent and must be free. Please join us in the struggle for justice! 215-476-5416 ICFFMAJ@aol.com