On April 26 the US Court of Appeals, 3d circuit, unanimously concluded that Mumia Abu Jamal's death sentence was unconstitutional!
The finding hinges on the how the jury was advised to consider evidence; as they did in 2008, the court found that the jury was not told that evidence in favor of a liffe verdict did not have to be agreed upon unanimously. The jurors felt obligated to disregard evidence upon which they did not agree. Evidence supporting a life verdict would have thus remained unconsidered, a process which is fundamentally unfair. From the article in the Bay View:
This decision marks an important step forward in the struggle to correct the mistakes of an unfortunate chapter in Pennsylvania history,” said John Payton, director-counsel of LDF. “Again acknowledging the existence of clear constitutional error in Mr. Abu-Jamal’s trial, the Court of Appeals’ decision enhances confidence in the criminal justice system and helps to relegate the kind of unfairness on which this death sentence rested to the distant past.”
Professor Ritter noted: “Pennsylvania long ago abandoned the confusing and misleading instructions and verdict slip that were relied on in Mr. Abu-Jamal’s trial in order to prevent unfair and unjust death sentences. Courts now use clear and unambiguous language to advise sentencing juries about their ability to consider evidence that favors a life verdict. Mr. Abu-Jamal is entitled to no less constitutional protection.”
Excerpts from his work:
From "String of berayal" (converning Mumia's being told that his dreadlocked hair did not fit within the 'image' of the radio station at which he worked, in response to which he wrote:
Are we talking about a radio station or a TV station? In the past three years, my hair has grown long, in a form some people call dreadlocks. Also in that time, I have worked in white radio, producing pieces good enough to garner a 1980 Major Armstrong Award (first place for news) along with other staffers at WUHYs 91 Report. Why are so-called dreadlocks so objectionable at a so-called BLACK radio station when it was a non-issue at a white one? When a Black man stops combing his OWN hair, which grows out of his OWN head, in the form of his fathers, and PROJECTS HIS OWN IMAGE, one as African as the African seed that produced him, ANOTHER BLACK MAN OBJECTS!
from "the Dirty Game (POLITICS)" written on Hallowe'en, 2010:
If ever there was an election drama that revealed the sheer contempt that Democrats have for their most loyal voting bloc Blacks this was the clearest, for the nominee was a Black man running for a seat in one of the whitest clubs in America the U.S. Senate. In the last half-century, only four Blacks have served in the Senate: Edward Brooks of Massachusetts, Carol Moseley-Braun and Barack H. Obama of Illinois, and the gubernatorially-appointed Sen. Roland Burris from Illinois. Democrats want to keep the Senate as the most exclusive country club in the nation.
Both articles, written in 2010, can be found here. both © Copyright 2010 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Read Mumia’s new book, “Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A.,” available from City Lights Publishing, www.citylights.com or (415) 362-8193. Keep updated atwww.freemumia.com. For Mumia’s commentaries, visit www.prisonradio.org. For recent interviews with Mumia, visit www.blockreportradio.com. Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries and interviews.
Mumia may be contacted at: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Greene, 175 Progress Dr., Waynesburg PA 15370.
Hopefully this marks a turning point for a principled and far seeing individual; hopefully this marks the beginning of the end of Mumia's 29 years on Death Row.
Odious as they may be, comparisons come to mind, comparisons that I cannot in good conscience make as I am in no position to judge. Neither, apparantly, are those to whom redounds the responsibiliy of making such comparisons. George Bush the Elder and the Younger, and tgheir cohorts, have not spent so much as one day behind bars; neither have evecutives at BP, and both are responsible for far more deaths. It is easy to posit a policeman among them. It would have made little difference had that in fact been verified to be the case -- as in fact it was with the Plame affair (See 2 CIA deaths in Afghanistan linked to the outing of Valerie Plame ...). Of course I am hesitant to argue that the perceived presence or absence of virtue should be enough to decide such a case -- the question of who is doing the deciding is too important -- but we are already putting frail humans in charge. The least nod we could make in the general direction of The Good would be to ensure that any mistakes would not be so unequivocably final.
Be seeing you.