German Author Michael Schiffmann Offers Analysis of Mumia’s Latest Court Ruling

DA Unsure Whether to Appeal US Supreme Court’s Decision Not to Hear DA’s Plea to Reinstate Abu-Jamal Death Sentence.

I guess the DA wont dare to go for a new sentencing hearing (see the quotes from Maureen Faulkner below). What does it mean: A renewed fight to throw out the conviction should now gain central importance. I’ll send around a long article on what may actually have happened on December 9, 1981 soon. It’s from our new book on Mumia that appeared in May. Let’s take the time for a quick toast on Mumia and some joyful celebration. Bestest to all –Michael.

Four Contributions from the Philadelphia Inquirer Website

Supco won’t hear Abu-Jamal death-sentence appeal

MARYCLAIRE DALE

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia prosecutors will have to pursue a second death-penalty sentence for convicted police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal or accept a life sentence after the U.S. Supreme Court declined Tuesday to review the racially charged case.
Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, has spent nearly 30 years on death row after his 1982 conviction for killing white officer Daniel Faulkner.
A federal appeals court this year upheld his conviction, but agreed the death-penalty instructions were potentially misleading and ordered a new sentencing hearing.
City prosecutors appealed that order, but must now decide whether to pursue the death penalty for a second time. Only three people have been executed in Pennsylvania since 1976, and none since 1999.
The officer’s widow, Maureen Faulkner, had supported the city’s appeal, but wondered Tuesday whether it was time to end the long-running drama. A re-hearing would cost the city millions, and keep Abu-Jamal in the media spotlight, she said. And many of the relevant witnesses are dead.
“He does get in the spotlight, and you just don’t know which way it’s going to go,” the 54-year-old Faulkner said from her home in southern California. “I have to think of the city of Philadelphia and the costs it would incur to open a new hearing. Any logical person would, after 30 years.”
Abu-Jamal’s writings and radio broadcasts from death row have made him a cause celebre and the subject of numerous books, movies and death-penalty protests. Other books, one by Maureen Faulkner, have supported her point of view.
Prosecutors plan to take some time before deciding their next move, District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement.
Widener University law professor Judith Ritter and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund represented Abu-Jamal in the latest appeal.
“At long last, the profoundly troubling prospect of Mr. Abu-Jamal facing an execution that was produced by an unfair and unreliable penalty phase has been eliminated,” said John Payton, president of the fund. “Our system should never condone an execution that stems from a trial in which the jury was improperly instructed on the law.”
According to trial testimony, Abu-Jamal saw his brother scuffle with the 25-year-old patrolman during a 4 a.m. traffic stop in 1981 and ran toward the scene. Police found Abu-Jamal wounded by a round from Faulkner’s gun. Faulkner, shot several times, was killed. A .38-caliber revolver registered to Abu-Jamal was found at the scene with five spent shell casings.
Tuesday’s decision upholds a 2001 ruling by U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr., who first ruled that Abu-Jamal deserved a new sentencing hearing because of flawed jury instructions on aggravating and mitigating factors.
Philadelphia prosecutors fought the decision, but the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them in 2008.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard an Ohio case involving similar sentencing issues last year, but rejected the inmate’s claim , and ordered the 3rd Circuit to revisit its Abu-Jamal decision.
However, the Philadelphia-based court stood its ground in April, insisting the two cases were different.
Under Pennsylvania law, Abu-Jamal should have received a life sentence if a
single juror found the mitigating circumstances outweighed the aggravating factors in Faulkner’s slaying. The 3rd Circuit found the verdict form confusing, given its repeated use of the word “unanimous,” even in the section on mitigating circumstances.
Williams has conceded that courts in Philadelphia and the U.S. “have had a history of problems and racism,” while adding of the Faulkner case, “This is not a whodunit.”
Abu-Jamal, a radio journalist and cab driver born Wesley Cook, is now 57.
Maureen Faulkner wants him mixed into the general prison population if she and prosecutors agree to a term of life without parole. She believes he now has an enviable setup as a world-famous inmate, with access to a law library and computer.
“I think he’s got his nice little cottage industry going from prison,” she said. “He lives each and every day like he’s going to work.”

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/wires/ap/news/state/pennsylvania/20111011_ap_supcowonthearabujamaldeathsentenceappeal.html?ref=more-like-this#ixzz1aVF6RCf4

Court rules in favor of one-time Black Panther

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court has rejected a request from Philadelphia prosecutors who want to re-impose a death sentence on former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of killing a white Philadelphia police officer 30 years ago.
The justices on Tuesday refused to get involved in the racially charged case. A federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing for Abu-Jamal after finding that the death-penalty instructions given to the jury at Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial were potentially misleading.
Courts have upheld Abu-Jamal’s conviction for killing Officer Daniel Faulkner over objections that African-Americans were improperly excluded from the jury.
The federal appeals court in Philadelphia said prosecutors could agree to a life sentence for Abu-Jamal or try again to sentence him to death.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/wires/ap/news/politics/20111011_ap_courtrulesinfavorofonetimeblackpanther.html?ref=more-like-this#ixzz1aVENkLPL

Court turns down Philly DA in cop-killing case

MARYCLAIRE DALE

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia prosecutors must pursue a second death-penalty sentence for convicted police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal or accept a life sentence after the U.S. Supreme Court declined Tuesday to review the racially charged case.
Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, has spent nearly 30 years on death row after his 1982 conviction for killing white officer Daniel Faulkner.
A federal appeals court this year upheld his conviction, but agreed the death-penalty instructions were potentially misleading and ordered a new sentencing hearing.
City prosecutors appealed that order, but must now decide whether to pursue the death penalty for a second time. Only three people have been executed in Pennsylvania since 1976, and none since 1999.
The officer’s widow, Maureen Faulkner, had supported that appeal, but wondered Tuesday whether it was time to end the long-running drama. A re-hearing would cost the city millions, and keep Abu-Jamal in the media spotlight, she said. And many of the relevant witnesses are dead.
“He does get in the spotlight, and you just don’t know which way it’s going to go,” the 54-year-old Faulkner said from her home in southern California.
“I was 25 when this started, and Danny’s 30-year anniversary (of his death) is coming up Dec. 9,” she said. “I feel like I have a life sentence hanging over my head with this.”
City prosecutors, who spoke briefly with Maureen Faulkner, plan to take some time before deciding their next move, District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement.
Widener University law professor Judith Ritter and the American Civil Liberties Union represented Abu-Jamal in the latest appeal.
“At long last, the profoundly troubling prospect of Mr. Abu-Jamal facing an execution that was produced by an unfair and unreliable penalty phase has been eliminated,” said John Payton, president of the ACLU’s Legal Defense & Educational Fund. “Our system should never condone an execution that stems from a trial in which the jury was improperly instructed on the law.”
According to trial testimony, Abu-Jamal saw his brother scuffle with the 25-year-old patrolman after a 4 a.m. traffic stop in 1981 and ran toward the scene. Police found Abu-Jamal wounded by a round from Faulkner’s gun. Faulkner, shot several times, was dead. A .38-caliber revolver registered to Abu-Jamal was found at the scene with five spent shell casings.
Abu-Jamal’s writings and radio broadcasts from death row have made him a cause celebre and the subject of numerous books and movies.

Supreme Court turns away DA’s Mumia challenge

By Joseph A. Slobodzian

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

In yet another legal milestone in a case that has haunted Philadelphia for three decades, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning refused to consider a petition by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office challenging a federal court ruling granting convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal a new death penalty hearing.
The high court ruled without comment, rejecting the case along with more than 100 others.
The ruling means that, unless the District Attorney’s office decides to conduct a new sentencing hearing for Abu-Jamal, 57, the one-time radio reporter will continue serving his life prison term without parole.
Abu-Jamal had been convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the 1981 shooting of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for District Attorney Seth Williams, said the prosecutor’s office will not comment on the Supreme Court ruling.
“The District Attorney along with members of the office’s Law Division need to determine the next course of action in this case and no decision will be made today,” Jamerson said.
The prosecutor’s unsuccessful appeal to the nation’s high court followed a decision in April by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.
The Third Circuit reiterated its earlier ruling that Abu-Jamal’s sentencing hearing was unfair and that the District Attorney’s office could either conduct a new hearing for Abu-Jamal or see his sentence revert to life without parole.
The question of fairness of the sentencing hearing was one of 29 claims in a 1999 appeal filed for the former radio reporter who became a political radical and international cause célèbre.
In 2001, U.S. District Judge William Yohn tossed out most of the arguments but let the sentencing hearing issue proceed.
In 2008, the Third Circuit agreed a new sentencing hearing was warranted. Two years later, in a ruling that also involved an Ohio death penalty case, the U.S. Supreme Court told Third Circuit to reconsider. In April, the Third Circuit court reaffirmed its ruling.
But this federal appeal is just one of several pending in federal and state appeals courts that could take years to resolve.
Faulkner, 25, and newly married, was on patrol in Center City on the night of Dec. 9, 1981 when, according to trial testimony, the officer pulled over a car driven by Abu-Jamal’s brother, William Cook, at 13th and Locust Streets.
Abu-Jamal, then driving a cab, saw the car stop, ran toward them and shot Faulkner, witnesses testified. An exchange of shots followed, and Abu-Jamal was hit by a bullet from Faulkner’s gun. He was found slumped on a curb.
Witnesses said that during the encounter, Abu-Jamal stood over the wounded officer and shot him in the face. Court records say Faulkner was shot between the eyes.
Neither Abu-Jamal nor his brother has testified about what happened, though in a 2001 affidavit Abu-Jamal denied shooting Faulkner.
Since then, Abu-Jamal’s supporters have been met with equally vocal supporters of the slain officer and his widow, Maureen Faulkner.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The above is mostly a sad comment on public opinion in Philadelphia, with Blanketman practically the only sane voice. This is a murder conviction where it is easily demonstrated that the two main prosecution witnesses didn’t even observe the killing because they were not where they later claimed to be. Five cops and security guards demonstrably lied about a confession of Abu-Jamal’s reporting it to the police only two months or more after the alleged fact. Fingerprints were destroyed at the scene, Abu-Jamal’s hands not tested, the bullet found in the dead officer’s head could never be matched to the barrel of Abu-Jamal’s gun. During the appeals process, Abu-Jamal’s judge Albert F. Sabo ´said, in open court, that “Justice is just and emotional feeling, that’s all it is,” and during the trial itself, a court stenographer overheard him at the end of the very first day as saying: “I’m going to help them [the DA’s Office] fry the nigger.” If all of this doesn’t give some of the people posting here second thoughts, what will? For more info, see www.abu-jamal.news.com and my book “Race Against Death. The Struggle for the Life and Freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” which can be googled on the internet. – Michael Schiffmann, Heidelberg, Germany

 

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