FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 

On Mumia Abu-Jamal’s birthday, April 24, about 125 demonstrators mobilized outside Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas in solidarity with Mumia’s effort to reverse his 1982 frame-up murder conviction and win a new trial that could lead to his freedom.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is perhaps the world’s best known political prisoner. He has been imprisoned for 36 years, and was on death row for 30 of those years. His fight for a new trial and freedom has been supported by organizations ranging from Amnesty International and the NAACP to the European Parliament and scores of national and local trade unions and city governments in the U.S. and abroad.

Represented by Judy Ritter, Mumia’s Philadelphia-based attorney, and Christina Swarms, of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, Mumia petitioned the court for a new Post Conviction Relief Act hearing based on last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Williams v. Pennsylvania.

The Williams decision reversed a death-penalty conviction on the grounds that “it is a violation of the due process right to an impartial tribunal free of judicial bias if a judge participating in a criminal appeal had a significant personal involvement as a prosecutor in a critical decision in a defendant’s case.”

In Mumia’s case, Philadelphia’s Senior Assistant District Attorney, Ronald Castille, served as a prosecutor in Mumia’s 1982 trial. Castille, who in the name of the state of Pennsylvania authorized a racist video instructing state prosecutors how to exclude Blacks from juries, later refused to recuse (remove) himself from adjudication of Mumia’s Pennsylvania Supreme Court appeals between 1995 and 2008, when he was a member of that court.

Ritter and Swarms, according to virtually all Mumia supporters present in the courtroom, presented a clear case for the applicability of Williams to Mumia’s conviction and demanded the reversal of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s findings and a new trial.

Philadelphia Deputy District Attorney Ronald Eisenberg, who had unsuccessfully argued the Williams case before the U.S. Supreme Court, represented the DA’s office at the April 24 hearing. His central argument to reject Mumia’s new PCRA petition was that, although Castille had officially signed off on all of the state’s briefs in Mumia’s case, there was no evidence of his direct involvement.

Mumia’s team refuted this specious argument and requested full discovery of Castille’s papers to prove otherwise. Eisenberg also argued that the 2016 Williams case was not retroactive—that is, it did apply to Mumia’s prior conviction.

Presiding Judge Leon W. Tucker made no rulings on any of the above contested issues and indicated that he would render a decision, but at an unspecified time. A multitude of possible legal outcomes appears likely in the months, if not years ahead.

Activists and legal observers present at the April 24 hearing believed that Tucker seemed to be sympathetic to the key arguments presented by Mumia’s attorneys. But they remain skeptical, if for no other reason that Mumia’s appeals, always in accord with established court decisions and legislation, have been repeatedly denied—so much so that the term “Mumia exception” has become commonplace with regard to the basic operations of the U.S. criminal injustice system.

Contrary to the requirements of U.S. “law,” Mumia was convicted by a mainly white jury, from which Blacks had been systematically excluded. He was physically banned from the courtroom during much of his trial. Eyewitnesses to his innocence were intimidated to alter their testimony or otherwise prevented from testifying at his trial, and “evidence” was manufactured by corrupt police, state investigators, and prosecutors.

In another landmark case, last month Pennsylvania Department of Corrections officials unsuccessfully sought to avoid a court order instructing prison authorities to administer Mumia’s long-sought anti-viral medication—with a 95 percent cure rate of Hepatitis C. Mumia is now receiving this life-saving medication, but only after a two-year delay, during which time his Hepatitis C disease, contracted through a 1981 blood transfusion after a police officer shot him, had developed into cirrhosis of the liver, the extent of which is still unknown.

Mumia has become a stunning symbol of the brutal racist and class-biased system of injustice that permeates U.S. society today—a gulag system, in which nearly 7 million human beings are incarcerated or subjected to “criminal” oversight jurisdictions, the largest number and percentage of a population of any country in the world.

Were it not for 36 years of national and international mobilizations to save Mumia from the executioners’ grasp, he would have been “legally” murdered long ago. Indeed, the latter end was sought by prosecutors and the Fraternal Order of Police for three decades, and only ended when a critical court victory ruled that a state prosecutor’s closing remarks at Mumia’s trial were fundamentally flawed.

Given the choice of granting Mumia a new trial, in which evidence of innocence could be presented for the first time—thereby exposing the monstrous police/prosecutor frame-up of Mumia—or agreeing to a new sentence of life imprisonment, Pennsylvania officials opted to forego efforts to kill Mumia, who is now serving a life term at SCI Mahoney in Frackville, Pa.

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!  End the Death Penalty! For a New Trial Now!

More articles by:

Jeff Mackler is a staffwriter for Socialist Action. He can be reached at jmackler@lmi.net  socialist action.org

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
February 24, 2020
Stephen Corry
New Deal for Nature: Paying the Emperor to Fence the Wind
M. K. Bhadrakumar
How India’s Modi is Playing on Trump’s Ego to His Advantage
Jennifer Matsui
Tycoon Battle-Bots Battle Bernie
Robert Fisk
There’s Little Chance for Change in Lebanon, Except for More Suffering
Rob Wallace
Connecting the Coronavirus to Agriculture
Bill Spence
Burning the Future: the Growing Anger of Young Australians
Eleanor Eagan
As the Primary Race Heats Up, Candidates Forget Principled Campaign Finance Stands
Binoy Kampmark
The Priorities of General Motors: Ditching Holden
George Wuerthner
Trojan Horse Timber Sales on the Bitterroot
Rick Meis
Public Lands “Collaboration” is Lousy Management
David Swanson
Bloomberg Has Spent Enough to Give a Nickel to Every Person Whose Life He’s Ever Damaged
Peter Cohen
What Tomorrow May Bring
Peter Harrison
Is It as Impossible to Build Jerusalem as It is to Escape Babylon?
Weekend Edition
February 21, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Election Con 2020: Exposing Trump’s Deception on the Opioid Epidemic
Joshua Frank
Bloomberg is a Climate Change Con Man
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Billion Dollar Babies
Paul Street
More Real-Time Reflections from Your Friendly South Loop Marxist
Jonathan Latham
Extensive Chemical Safety Fraud Uncovered at German Testing Laboratory
Ramzy Baroud
‘The Donald Trump I know’: Abbas’ UN Speech and the Breakdown of Palestinian Politics
Martha Rosenberg
A Trump Sentence Commutation Attorneys Generals Liked
Ted Rall
Bernie Should Own the Socialist Label
Louis Proyect
Encountering Malcolm X
Kathleen Wallace
The Debate Question That Really Mattered
Jonathan Cook
UN List of Firms Aiding Israel’s Settlements was Dead on Arrival
George Wuerthner
‘Extremists,’ Not Collaborators, Have Kept Wilderness Whole
Colin Todhunter
Apocalypse Now! Insects, Pesticide and a Public Health Crisis  
Stephen Reyna
A Paradoxical Colonel: He Doesn’t Know What He is Talking About, Because He Knows What He is Talking About.
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A New Solar Power Deal From California
Richard Moser
One Winning Way to Build the Peace Movement and One Losing Way
Laiken Jordahl
Trump’s Wall is Destroying the Environment We Worked to Protect
Walden Bello
Duterte Does the Right Thing for a Change
Jefferson Morley
On JFK, Tulsi Gabbard Keeps Very Respectable Company
Vijay Prashad
Standing Up for Left Literature: In India, It Can Cost You Your Life
Gary Leupp
Bloomberg Versus Bernie: The Upcoming Battle?
Ron Jacobs
The Young Lords: Luchadores Para La Gente
Richard Klin
Loss Leaders
Gaither Stewart
Roma: How Romans Differ From Europeans
Kerron Ó Luain
The Soviet Century
Mike Garrity
We Can Fireproof Homes But Not Forests
Fred Baumgarten
Gaslighting Bernie and His Supporters
Joseph Essertier
Our First Amendment or Our Empire, But Not Both
Peter Linebaugh
A Story for the Anthropocene
Danny Sjursen
Where Have You Gone Smedley Butler?
Jill Richardson
A Broken Promise to Teachers and Nonprofit Workers
Binoy Kampmark
“Leave Our Bloke Alone”: A Little Mission for Julian Assange
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail