On December 27, Philadelphia Superior Court Judge Leon Tucker ruled in favor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, holding that the actions of former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge Ronald Castille demonstrated a “lack of impartiality” and “the appearance of bias.”
Tucker’s decision represents a major victory for Abu-Jamal that opens the door to a new trial–or dismissal of the murder charges against him–after an appeal to the Pennsylvania courts.
Incarcerated in 1981 in a racist frame-up murder trial of police officer Daniel Faulkner and on death row for most of the past 37 years, Mumia was a prize-winning journalist and today the author of 10 books on various aspects of the freedom struggle. His latest book, Murder Incorporated: Empire, Genocide, Manifest Destiny, 2017, co-authored by filmmaker Stephen Victoria (Long Distance Revolutionary, 2014) with a forward by Chris Hedges, is invaluable reading for revolutionary activists who seek the truth about capitalist imperialism’s centuries of horrors and the historic resistance against them.
Mumia’s freedom struggle has been supported by scores of trade unions across the U.S. and in Europe as well as by Amnesty International, the NAACP and numerous city council resolutions from San Francisco to Detroit.
Tucker’s 27-page ruling was in two parts. He held in Part Two that with regard to all of Mumia’s numerous denied Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) appeals between 1998 and 2014, Supreme Court Judge Ronald Castille’s actions in campaigning for the Pennsylvania governor to sign death penalty warrants for all “convicted cop killers” and other biased acts, violated Mumia’s fundamental constitutional rights.
Castille had participated in PA Supreme Court decisions that denied all of Mumia’s appeals, including a request from Mumia’s attorneys that he recuse himself from deciding the case he had helped to prosecute and another decision where the same Castille court refused to consider documented evidence submitted by court stenographer Terri Maurer Carter that Mumia’s trial judge Albert “the hanging judge” Sabo had stated in his antechambers before entering the courtroom to adjudicate Mumia’s case, “Yeah, I’m going to help ‘em fry the nigger.” Mumia’s decades long sojourn through the racist U.S. “criminal justice system” is replete with what has become infamously known as “the Mumia exception,” that is, contorted applications of the “law” aimed at denying its applicability to the facts in Mumia’s case. These include systematic exclusion of eyewitness testimony proving his innocence, intimidation of witnesses, falsification of exonerating ballistics findings, fabrication of testimony that Mumia admitted to the killing of police officer Daniel Faulkner and Mumia’s physical exclusion from a majority of his trial proceedings – to name a few of the legal atrocities attendant to his trial and subsequent proceedings.
Judge Tucker’s ruling opens the door for Mumia to appeal all of Castille’s decisions over a 17-years period. Tucker denied Part One of Mumia’s appeal that pertained to whether or not Castille had been significantly or personally involved in Mumia’s prosecution in order to qualify under the provisions of the 2016 Supreme Court William’s case. Mumia’s attorneys may appeal this decision in order to fight on both legal fronts.
While the present Philadelphia District Attorney, Larry Krasner may well appeal Tucker’s amazing and unexpected decision, the door is nevertheless wide open to a lengthy legal battle along with renewed national and international campaigns to win massive and united support in the streets to demand Mumia’s freedom.