Legal Update - 30 May 2008
This Legal Update is made on behalf of my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is on Pennsylvanias death row.
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia The U.S. Court of Appeals has granted my motion for a 14-day extension of time to file the Petition for Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc. It will be submitted on June 10, 2008. The following is a related news story:
On March 27 the U.S. Court of Appeals court ordered a new jury trial on whether Mumia should be sentenced to life or death, because of unconstitutional jury instructions. Mumia remains on death row since the ruling has not taken effect and the prosecution has vowed to appeal and continue its quest to see him executed. It is always good when there is a determination that the death penalty was wrongfully imposed, especially where, as here, it could help others sentenced to death. Yet, we are not pleased with the ruling because the court refused to reverse the conviction and order a new trial on the question of innocence. The indisputable facts are that the prosecutor engaged in racism to select the jury, made a misleading argument to the jury that turned the concept of reasonable doubt on its head, and the trial judge was biased.
The bright side of the federal decision is that Justice Thomas L. Ambro wrote a lengthy dissenting opinion on the issue of racism in jury selection. The first sentence set the tone: Excluding even a single person from a jury because of race violates the Equal Protection Clause of our Constitution. He concluded that the core guarantee of equal protection, ensuring citizens that their State will not discriminate on account of race, would be meaningless were we to approve the exclusion of jurors on the basis of . . . race. . . . I respectfully dissent. These words are a light in the darkness in our effort to seek a rehearing before the full court.
Donations for Mumia's Legal Defense in the United States With Mumia's authorization, a process now exists in the U.S. guaranteeing both that donations will go only to the legal defense and are tax-deductible. This is the exclusive process in this country for donations to the legal defense. Checks should be made payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation (indicate "Mumia" on the bottom left), and mailed to:
Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
United States Supreme Court I have filed pleadings in the U.S. Supreme Court on issues we litigated in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, e.g., that the prosecution use false testimony and fabricated evidence. Justice David H. Souter has granted my motion and set the petition filing date as July 18, 2008. This has no bearing on the proceedings pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Conclusion My goal remains a new jury trial in which Mumia will be found "not guilty" so that he can return home to his family. The ongoing concern by so many people for human rights is appreciated. Mumia and I humbly thank you.
Yours very truly,
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
Posted: 8 June 2008