Friday, March 28, 2008

Mumia Won't Fry

"...A federal appeals court today refused to reinstate the death sentence of world-famous death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, but left intact his murder conviction in the 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that Abu-Jamal must be sentenced to life in prison or get a chance with a new Philadelphia jury, which would decide only whether he should get life in prison or be sentenced - again - to death.

The judges left intact his first-degree murder conviction, rejecting Abu-Jamal's claim that he deserves an entirely new trial and a chance to prove his innocence..." (source)

I know this is a world-wide known case and Mumia has become a Cause-Celeb in many countries, but I'm not sure people that aren't here in Philly realize how personal it seems to us. We have been living with this case and its implications for over 20 years. It's been talked about for as long as I can remember...literally.

"... Other Abu-Jamal supporters were unhappy with the ruling. They said rallies were being planned for as early as tomorrow outside federal courthouses in Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco.

"This was no victory, in any sense of the word," said Pam Africa, a member of the radical group MOVE.

"Today's decision is a travesty of justice," said Jeff Mackler, of Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. He said he had been hoping that the Third Circuit would order an entirely new trial based on the claim about racial discrimination in jury selection.

Mackler said he anticipates worldwide reaction to the disappointing decision. "Tomorrow is just an initial reaction," he said.

An appeal is virtually certain." (source)
"...Jamal's supporters claim that prosecutor Joe McGill and Judge Albert Sabo conspired to "racially stack" the jury that convicted Jamal, in violation of his civil rights. Some supporters have gone so far as to claim that there was only one black juror at Jamal's original trial in 1982; others have said there were none. It is alleged that this "racially stacked" jury disregarded all the evidence and found Jamal guilty simply because he was black.

In his book "Race For Justice", Leonard Weinglass states, "During the course of the jury selection, the prosecution used eleven of fifteen peremptory challenges to excuse nearly 75 percent of the eligible black jurors." In his public presentations, Weinglass claims that the sole reason for the dismissal of these prospective jurors was the fact that they were black.

Jamal's lawyers also argue that his absence from an "in chambers conference," in which the Judge, the prosecutor, and Jamal's trial attorney (a black man) discussed and agreed upon the removal of a black juror who had violated sequestration, was a pretext to remove her because of her race...." (source)

I'd be satisfied with life without the possibility of parole if Mumia wasn't enjoying celebrity status, publishing books and doing radio interviews...

No comments: