Mumia Abu-Jamal to Get Appeal

By Free Radical

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been in prison since 1982 for a crime many believe he never committed.

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been in prison since 1982 for a crime many believe he never committed.

Internationally revered freedom fighter Mumia Abu-Jamal will get a new opportunity to appeal his conviction of murder based on a ruling by a Philadelphia area judge.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker ruled that Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille should not have presided over Abu-Jamal’s earlier appeal cases because he also prosecuted Abu-Jamal previously as the Philadelphia District Attorney. Many of Jamal’s supporters urged Tucker to recuse himself but he refused.

In his legal opinion issued Thursday, Tucker argued “The claim of bias, prejudice and refusal of former Justice Castille to recuse himself is worthy of consideration as true justice must be completely just without even a hint of partiality, lack of integrity or impropriety.”

Judith L. Ritter, one of Abu-Jamal’s attorney expressed in a statement, “Judge Tucker recognized the unconstitutional bias involved with Justice Castille’s sitting on the prior post-conviction appeals, and the need for a new appeal untainted by such bias. This was a straightforward application of federal and Pennsylvania law requiring cases to be decided by judges whose impartiality cannot reasonably be questioned.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been incarcerated since 1982 as a result of a December 9, 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal had been a member of the Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther Party and had been subject to egregious harassment by local, state, and national law enforcement. Abu-Jamal’s conviction in 1982 also resulted in a death sentence. However, it was overturned and reduced to life in prison in 2011 as a result of flawed jury instructions.

There were three eyewitnesses who were crucial to Abu-Jamal’s first trial. However, his attorneys allege that there were additional individuals on the scene who ran away after the gunshots rang out. They have never been located, but may have pulled the trigger.

Though Abu-Jamal has scored a major victory, the case is still in flux. Opponents plan to appeal to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Kranser to challenge Judge Tucker’s recent ruling.

Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have thirty days to formally file an appeal, which they likely will do.

 

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