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Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner
Daniel Faulkner
Daniel J. Faulkner was a police officer in the American city of Philadelphia who was shot and killed in the line of duty. Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of first-degree murder for the shooting and sentenced to death...

 and sentenced to death. He has been described as "perhaps the world's best known death-row inmate", and his sentence is one of the most debated today. Before his arrest, he was an activist and radio journalist who became President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists
Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists
The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists is a non-profit organization founded in 1973 by journalists concerned about the lack of black journalists in the media and the dearth of coverage of the black community. PABJ is an alliance of print and broadcast journalist in the Philadelphia...

. He was a member of the Black Panther Party
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party wasan African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982....

 until October 1970.

Since his conviction, his case has become an international cause célèbre, and he has become a controversial cultural icon. Supporters and opponents disagree on the appropriateness of the death penalty, whether he is guilty, or whether he received a fair trial
Right to a fair trial
The right to fair trial is an essential right in all countries respecting the rule of law. A trial in these countries that is deemed unfair will typically be restarted, or its verdict voided....

. During his imprisonment he has published several books and other commentaries, notably Live from Death Row
Live from Death Row
Live from Death Row, published in May 1995, is a collection of memoirs by American death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal. Publishers Addison-Wesley gave Abu-Jamal a $30,000 advance for the novel, prompting Maureen Faulkner, the widow of Daniel Faulkner, the Philadelphia Police Officer whom Abu-Jamal...

(1995).

Since 1995, Abu-Jamal, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is the Pennsylvania state agency that is responsible for the confinement, care and rehabilitation of approximately 51,000 inmates at state correctional facilities funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania...

 #AM8335, has been incarcerated at Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

's SCI Greene, where most of the state's capital case inmates are held. In 2008, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the murder conviction, but ordered a new capital sentencing hearing over concerns that the jury was improperly instructed. Subsequently, the United States Supreme Court allowed his July 1982 conviction to stand, and ordered the appeals court to reconsider its decision to rescind the death sentence. On April 26, 2011, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction as well as its decision to vacate the death sentence. The issue of the sentence—death or life imprisonment—was remanded for a new hearing.

Early life and activism


Abu-Jamal was given the name Mumia in 1968 by his high school teacher, a Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

n instructing a class on African cultures in which students took African classroom names. According to Abu-Jamal, 'Mumia' means "Prince" and was the name of anti-colonial African nationalists conducting warfare against the British in Kenya at the time of its independence movement. He adopted the surname Abu-Jamal ("father of Jamal" in Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

) after the birth of his son Jamal on July 18, 1971. His first marriage at age 19, to Jamal's mother, Biba, was short-lived. Their daughter, Lateefa, was born shortly after the wedding. Mazi, Abu-Jamal's son by his second wife, Marilyn (known as "Peachie"), was born in early 1978. Abu-Jamal separated from Marilyn and commenced living with his third and current wife, Wadiya, shortly before the events that led to his incarceration.

Involvement with the Black Panthers


In his own writings, Abu-Jamal describes his adolescent experience of being "kicked ... into the Black Panther Party" after suffering a beating from "white racists
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

" and a policeman for his efforts to disrupt a George Wallace for President rally in 1968. The following year, at the age of 15, he helped form the Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther Party
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party wasan African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982....

, taking appointment, in his own words, as the chapter's "Lieutenant of Information", exercising a responsibility for writing information and news communications. In one of the interviews he gave at the time he quoted Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

, saying that "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun". That same year, he dropped out of Benjamin Franklin High School
Benjamin Franklin High School (Philadelphia)
Benjamin Franklin High School is a public high school located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.The school, located north of Center City, is a part of the School District of Philadelphia. Franklin serves several areas, including Fairmount, Spring Garden, the section of Northern Liberties...

 and took up residence in the branch's headquarters. He spent late 1969 in New York City and early 1970 in Oakland
Oakland, California
Oakland is a major West Coast port city on San Francisco Bay in the U.S. state of California. It is the eighth-largest city in the state with a 2010 population of 390,724...

, living and working with BPP colleagues in those cities. He was a party member from May 1969 until October 1970 and was subject to Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological...

 surveillance from then until about 1974.

Education and journalism career


After leaving the Panthers he returned to his old high school, but was suspended for distributing literature calling for "black revolutionary student power". He also led unsuccessful protests to change the school name to Malcolm X
Malcolm X
Malcolm X , born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz , was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its...

 High. After attaining his GED
GED
General Educational Development tests are a group of five subject tests which, when passed, certify that the taker has American or Canadian high school-level academic skills...

, he studied briefly at Goddard College
Goddard College
Goddard College is a private, liberal arts college located in Plainfield, Vermont, offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Goddard College currently operates on an intensive low-residency model...

 in rural Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

.

By 1975 he was pursuing a vocation in radio newscasting, first at Temple University
Temple University
Temple University is a comprehensive public research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Originally founded in 1884 by Dr. Russell Conwell, Temple University is among the nation's largest providers of professional education and prepares the largest body of professional...

's WRTI
WRTI
WRTI is a public radio station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is a service of Temple University.WRTI began in 1948 as an AM carrier current station. It was founded by John Roberts, professor emeritus of communications at Temple and long-time anchorman at WFIL-TV . He'd helped found the School...

 and then at commercial enterprises. In 1975, he was employed at radio station WHAT
WHAT (AM)
El Zol 1340 is a commercial radio station located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, broadcasting on 1340 AM. The station is owned by Aztec Capital Partners, Inc....

 and he became host of a weekly feature program of WCAU-FM
WOGL
WOGL is an FM radio station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.The station plays mostly post 1964 pop leaning Oldies positioned Classic Hits music, including Motown, soul and rock and roll spanning roughly 1964–1985. An occasional pre-1964 song is played. WOGL is owned by CBS Radio...

 in 1978. He was also employed for brief periods at radio station WPEN
WPEN (AM)
WPEN is an AM radio station broadcast on 950 kHz. The station is licensed to Philadelphia and serves that market. WPEN is owned and operated by Greater Media and offers a Sports Talk format. The station is known as "950 ESPN"-The Early Years:...

, and became active in the local chapter of the Marijuana Users Association of America. From 1979 he worked at National Public Radio-affiliate WUHY
WHYY-FM
WHYY-FM is an NPR member station serving the Delaware Valley area, which is the metro area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The station is located in Philadelphia. Its transmitter is located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia.-History:...

 until 1981 when he was asked to submit his resignation after a dispute about the requirements of objective focus in his presentation of news. As a radio journalist he earned the moniker "the voice of the voiceless" and was renowned for identifying with and giving exposure to the MOVE
MOVE
MOVE or the MOVE Organization is a Philadelphia-based black liberation group founded by John Africa. MOVE was described by CNN as "a loose-knit, mostly black group whose members all adopted the surname Africa, advocated a "back-to-nature" lifestyle and preached against technology." The group...

 anarcho-primitivist
Anarcho-primitivism
Anarcho-primitivism is an anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization. According to anarcho-primitivism, the shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural subsistence gave rise to social stratification, coercion, and alienation...

 commune in Philadelphia's Powelton Village neighborhood, including reportage of the 1979–80 trial of certain of its members (the "MOVE Nine") charged with the murder of police officer James Ramp. During his broadcasting career, his high-profile interviews included Julius Erving
Julius Erving
Julius Winfield Erving II , commonly known by the nickname Dr. J, is a retired American basketball player who helped launch a modern style of play that emphasizes leaping and play above the rim....

, Bob Marley
Bob Marley
Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley, OM was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He was the rhythm guitarist and lead singer for the ska, rocksteady and reggae band Bob Marley & The Wailers...

, and Alex Haley
Alex Haley
Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was an African-American writer. He is best known as the author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family and the coauthor of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.-Early life:...

, and he was elected president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists
Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists
The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists is a non-profit organization founded in 1973 by journalists concerned about the lack of black journalists in the media and the dearth of coverage of the black community. PABJ is an alliance of print and broadcast journalist in the Philadelphia...

.

At the time of Daniel Faulkner's murder, Abu-Jamal was working as a taxicab driver in Philadelphia two nights a week to supplement his income. He had been working part-time as a reporter for WDAS, then an African-American-oriented
African American culture
African-American culture, also known as black culture, in the United States refers to the cultural contributions of Americans of African descent to the culture of the United States, either as part of or distinct from American culture. The distinct identity of African-American culture is rooted in...

 and minority-owned radio station.

Arrest for murder and trial



On December 9, 1981, in Philadelphia, close to the intersection at 13th and Locust Streets, Philadelphia Police Department
Philadelphia Police Department
The Philadelphia Police Department is the police agency responsible for law enforcement and investigations within the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

 officer Daniel Faulkner
Daniel Faulkner
Daniel J. Faulkner was a police officer in the American city of Philadelphia who was shot and killed in the line of duty. Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of first-degree murder for the shooting and sentenced to death...

 conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle belonging to William Cook, Abu-Jamal's younger brother. During the traffic stop, Abu-Jamal's taxi was parked across the street, and Abu-Jamal ran across the street towards the traffic stop. At the traffic stop, there was an exchange of fire. Both Officer Faulkner and Abu-Jamal were wounded, and Faulkner died. Police arrived on the scene and arrested Abu-Jamal, who was found in possession of a shoulder holster and a revolver, which had five spent cartridges. He was taken directly from the scene of the shooting to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital where he received treatment for his wound, the result of a shot from Faulkner.

Abu-Jamal was charged with the first-degree murder of Daniel Faulkner. The case went to trial in June 1982 in Philadelphia. Judge Albert F. Sabo
Albert F. Sabo
Albert F. Sabo was an American lawyer and judge of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. He is best known for presiding over the 1982 murder trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal...

 initially agreed to Abu-Jamal's request to represent himself, with criminal defense attorney Anthony Jackson acting as his legal advisor. During the first day of the trial, Judge Sabo warned Abu-Jamal that he would forfeit his legal right to self-representation if he kept being intentionally disruptive in a fashion that was unbecoming under the law. Due to Abu-Jamal's continued disruptive behavior, Judge Sabo ruled that Abu-Jamal forfeited his right to self-representation.

Prosecution case at trial


The prosecution presented four witnesses to the court. Robert Chobert, a cab driver who testified he was parked behind Faulkner, identified Abu-Jamal as the shooter. Cynthia White, a prostitute, testified that Abu-Jamal emerged from a nearby parking lot and shot Faulkner. Michael Scanlan, a motorist, testified that from two car lengths away, he saw a man, matching Abu-Jamal's description, run across the street from a parking lot and shoot Faulkner. Albert Magilton, a pedestrian who did not see the actual murder, testified to witnessing Faulkner pull over Cook's car. At the point of seeing Abu-Jamal start to cross the street toward them from the parking lot, Magilton turned away and lost sight of what happened next.

The prosecution also presented two witnesses who were at the hospital after the altercation. Hospital security guard Priscilla Durham and Police Officer Garry Bell testified that Abu-Jamal confessed in the hospital by saying, "I shot the motherfucker, and I hope the motherfucker dies."

A .38 caliber
.38 Special
The .38 Smith & Wesson Special is a rimmed, centerfire cartridge designed by Smith & Wesson. It is most commonly used in revolvers, although some semi-automatic pistols and carbines also use this round...

 Charter Arms
Charter Arms
Charter Arms Co. is an American manufacturer of revolvers that are relatively inexpensive yet serviceable handguns. The original Charter Arms produced revolvers chambered in calibers .22 Long Rifle, .22 Winchester Magnum, .32 Long, .32 H&R Magnum, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .38 Special and...

 revolver, belonging to Abu-Jamal, with five spent cartridges was retrieved beside him at the scene. He was wearing a shoulder holster, and the shell casings and rifling characteristics of the weapon were consistent with bullet fragments taken from Faulkner's body. Tests to confirm that Abu-Jamal had handled and fired the weapon were not performed, as contact with arresting police and other surfaces at the scene could have compromised the forensic
Forensics
Forensic science is the application of a broad spectrum of sciences to answer questions of interest to a legal system. This may be in relation to a crime or a civil action...

 value of such tests.

Defense case at trial


The defense maintained that Abu-Jamal was innocent of the charges and that the testimony of the prosecution's witnesses was unreliable. The defense presented nine character witnesses, including poet Sonia Sanchez
Sonia Sanchez
Sonia Sanchez is an African American poet most often associated with the Black Arts Movement. She has authored over a dozen books of poetry, as well as plays and children's books...

, who testified that Abu-Jamal was "viewed by the black community as a creative, articulate, peaceful, genial man". Another defense witness, Dessie Hightower, testified that he saw a man running along the street shortly after the shooting although he did not see the actual shooting itself. His testimony contributed to the development of a "running man theory", based on the possibility that a "running man" may have been the actual shooter. Veronica Jones also testified for the defense, but she did not see anyone running. Other potential defense witnesses refused to appear in court. Abu-Jamal did not testify in his own defense. Nor did his brother, who said at the crime scene, "I ain't got nothing to do with this."

Verdict and sentence


The jury delivered a unanimous guilty verdict after three hours of deliberations.

In the sentencing phase of the trial, Abu-Jamal read to the jury from a prepared statement. He was then cross-examined
Cross-examination
In law, cross-examination is the interrogation of a witness called by one's opponent. It is preceded by direct examination and may be followed by a redirect .- Variations by Jurisdiction :In...

 about issues relevant to the assessment of his character by Joseph McGill, the prosecuting attorney.

In his statement Abu-Jamal criticized his attorney as a "legal trained lawyer" who was imposed on him against his will and who "knew he was inadequate to the task and chose to follow the directions of this black-robed conspirator, [Judge] Albert Sabo, even if it meant ignoring my directions". He claimed that his rights had been "deceitfully stolen" from him by Sabo, particularly focusing on the denial of his request to receive defense assistance from non-attorney
Attorney at law
An attorney at law in the United States is a practitioner in a court of law who is legally qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on the retainer of clients. Alternative terms include counselor and lawyer...

 John Africa
John Africa
John Africa , was a founder of MOVE, a Philadelphia-based black liberation group prominent in the United States in the early 1970s...

 and being prevented from proceeding pro se. He quoted remarks of John Africa, and said:
"Does it matter whether a white man is charged with killing a black man or a black man is charged with killing a white man? As for justice when the prosecutor represents the Commonwealth the Judge represents the Commonwealth and the court-appointed lawyer is paid and supported by the Commonwealth, who follows the wishes of the defendant, the man charged with the crime? If the court-appointed lawyer ignores, or goes against the wishes of the man he is charged with representing, whose wishes does he follow? Who does he truly represent or work for? ... I am innocent of these charges that I have been charged of and convicted of and despite the connivance of Sabo, McGill and Jackson to deny me my so-called rights to represent myself, to assistance of my choice, to personally select a jury who is totally of my peers, to cross-examine witnesses, and to make both opening and closing arguments, I am still innocent of these charges."


Abu-Jamal was subsequently sentenced to death by the unanimous decision of the jury.

Appeals and review



State appeals


Direct appeal of his conviction was considered and denied by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the court of last resort for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It meets in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.-History:...

 on March 6, 1989, subsequently denying rehearing. The Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 denied his petition for writ of certiorari
Certiorari
Certiorari is a type of writ seeking judicial review, recognized in U.S., Roman, English, Philippine, and other law. Certiorari is the present passive infinitive of the Latin certiorare...

 on October 1, 1990, and denied his petition for rehearing twice up to June 10, 1991.

On June 1, 1995 his death warrant
Execution warrant
An execution warrant is a writ which authorizes the execution of a judgment of death on an individual...

 was signed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge
Tom Ridge
Thomas Joseph "Tom" Ridge is an American politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives , the 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania , Assistant to the President for Homeland Security , and the first United States Secretary of Homeland Security...

. Its execution was suspended while Abu-Jamal pursued state post-conviction review. At the post-conviction review hearings, new witnesses were called. William "Dales" Singletary testified that he saw the shooting and that the gunman was the passenger in Cook's car. Singletary's account contained discrepancies which rendered it "not credible" in the opinion of the court. William Harmon, a convicted fraud
Fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

ster, testified that Faulkner's murderer fled in a car which pulled up at the crime scene, and could not have been Abu-Jamal. However, Robert Harkins testified that he had witnessed a man stand over Faulkner as the latter lay wounded on the ground, who shot him point-blank in the face and then "walked and sat down on the curb".

The six judges of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled unanimously that all issues raised by Abu-Jamal, including the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel
Ineffective assistance of counsel
Ineffective assistance of counsel is an issue raised in legal malpractice suits and in appeals in criminal cases where a criminal defendant asserts that their criminal conviction occurred because their attorney failed to properly defend the case...

, were without merit. The Supreme Court of the United States denied a petition for certiorari
Certiorari
Certiorari is a type of writ seeking judicial review, recognized in U.S., Roman, English, Philippine, and other law. Certiorari is the present passive infinitive of the Latin certiorare...

 against that decision on October 4, 1999, enabling Ridge to sign a second death warrant on October 13, 1999. Its execution in turn was stayed as Abu-Jamal commenced his pursuit of federal habeas corpus
Habeas corpus in the United States
Habeas corpus , Latin for "you [shall] have the body," is the name of a legal action or writ by means of which detainees can seek relief from unlawful imprisonment...

 review.

In 1999, Arnold Beverly
Arnold Beverly
Arnold Beverly is a Philadelphia man who rose to prominence during the legal appeals following the 1982 trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal. In 1999, Beverly signed an affidavit confessing to the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner...

 claimed that he and an unnamed assailant, not Mumia Abu-Jamal, shot Daniel Faulkner as part of a contract killing because Faulkner was interfering with graft
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 and payoff to corrupt police. The Beverly affidavit became an item of division for Mumia's defense team, as some thought it usable and others rejected Beverly's story as "not credible".

Private investigator George Newman claimed in 2001 that Chobert had recanted his testimony. Commentators also noted that police and news photographs of the crime scene did not show Chobert's taxi, and that Cynthia White, the only witness at the trial to testify to seeing the taxi, had previously provided crime scene descriptions that omitted it. Cynthia White was declared to be dead by the state of New Jersey in 1992 although Pamela Jenkins claimed that she saw White alive as late as 1997. Mumia supporters often claim that White was a police informant and that she falsified her testimony against Abu-Jamal. Priscilla Durham's step-brother, Kenneth Pate, who was imprisoned with Abu-Jamal on other charges, has since claimed that Durham admitted to not hearing the hospital confession. The hospital doctors have stated that Abu-Jamal was not capable of making such a dramatic bedside confession at that time. In 2008, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania rejected a further request from Abu-Jamal for a hearing into claims that the trial witnesses perjured
Perjury
Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. That is, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the...

 themselves on the grounds that he had waited too long before filing the appeal.

Federal ruling directing resentencing


Abu-Jamal did not make any public statements about Faulkner's murder until May 2001. In his version of events, he claimed that he was sitting in his cab across the street when he heard shouting, then saw a police vehicle, then heard the sound of gunshots. Upon seeing his brother appearing disoriented across the street, Abu-Jamal ran to him from the parking lot and was shot by a police officer. The driver originally stopped by police officer Faulkner, Abu-Jamal's brother William Cook, did not testify or make any statement until April 29, 2001, when he claimed that he had not seen who had shot Faulkner.

Judge William H. Yohn Jr.
William H. Yohn, Jr.
William H. Yohn, Jr. is a judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Born in 1935 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, Judge Yohn graduated from Princeton University in 1957 and received his J.D. from the Yale Law School in 1960. Judge Yohn served in the United...

 of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is one of the original 13 federal judiciary districts created by the Judiciary Act of 1789...

 upheld the conviction but vacated the sentence of death on December 18, 2001, citing irregularities in the original process of sentencing. Particularly, He ordered the State of Pennsylvania to commence new sentencing proceedings within 180 days and ruled that it was unconstitutional to require that a jury's finding of circumstances mitigating against determining a sentence of death be unanimous. Eliot Grossman and Marlene Kamish, attorneys for Abu-Jamal, criticized the ruling on the grounds that it denied the possibility of a trial de novo
Trial de novo
In law, the expression trial de novo means a "new trial" by a different tribunal...

at which they could introduce evidence that their client had been framed. Prosecutors also criticized the ruling; Officer Faulkner's widow Maureen described Abu-Jamal as a "remorseless, hate-filled killer" who would "be permitted to enjoy the pleasures that come from simply being alive" on the basis of the judgment. Both parties appealed.

Federal appeal


On December 6, 2005, the Third Circuit Court
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts for the following districts:* District of Delaware* District of New Jersey...

 admitted four issues for appeal of the ruling of the District Court: 1) in relation to sentencing, whether the jury verdict form had been flawed and the judge's instructions to the jury had been confusing; 2) in relation to conviction and sentencing, whether racial bias in jury selection
Jury selection
Jury selection are many methods used to choose the people who will serve on a trial jury. The jury pool is first selected from among the community using a reasonably random method. The prospective jurors are then questioned in court by the judge and/or attorneys...

 existed to an extent tending to produce an inherently biased jury and therefore an unfair trial (the Batson
Batson v. Kentucky
Batson v. Kentucky, , was a case in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that a prosecutor's use of peremptory challenge—the dismissal of jurors without stating a valid cause for doing so—may not be used to exclude jurors based solely on their race...

claim); 3) in relation to conviction, whether the prosecutor improperly attempted to reduce jurors' sense of responsibility by telling them that a guilty verdict would be subsequently vetted and subject to appeal; 4) in relation to post-conviction review hearings in 1995–6, whether the presiding judge, who had also presided at the trial, demonstrated unacceptable bias in his conduct.

The Third Circuit Court heard oral arguments in the appeals on May 17, 2007, at the United States Courthouse in Philadelphia. The appeal panel consisted of Chief Judge Anthony Joseph Scirica
Anthony Joseph Scirica
Anthony Joseph Scirica is a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Born in 1940 in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Chief Judge Scirica graduated from Wesleyan University in 1962 and received his J.D. from University of Michigan Law School in 1965...

, Judge Thomas Ambro
Thomas L. Ambro
Thomas L. Ambro is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.He was appointed to the Third Circuit by President Bill Clinton on September 29, 1999, to fill a seat vacated by Walter King Stapleton...

, and Judge Robert Cowen
Robert Cowen
Robert E. Cowen is a Federal Appeals Judge with the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit based in Philadelphia. He joined the court in 1987 after being nominated by President Ronald Reagan...

. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania sought to reinstate the sentence of death, on the basis that Yohn's ruling was flawed, as he should have deferred to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court which had already ruled on the issue of sentencing, and the Batson claim was invalid because Abu-Jamal made no complaints during the original jury selection. Abu-Jamal's counsel told the Third Circuit Court that Abu-Jamal did not get a fair trial because the jury was both racially-biased and misinformed, and the judge was a racist. The last of those claims was made based on the statement by a Philadelphia court stenographer named Terri Maurer-Carter who, in a 2001 affidavit
Affidavit
An affidavit is a written sworn statement of fact voluntarily made by an affiant or deponent under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law. Such statement is witnessed as to the authenticity of the affiant's signature by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public...

, stated that Judge Sabo had said "Yeah, and I'm going to help them fry the nigger
Nigger
Nigger is a noun in the English language, most notable for its usage in a pejorative context to refer to black people , and also as an informal slang term, among other contexts. It is a common ethnic slur...

." in the course of a conversation regarding Abu-Jamal's case. Sabo denied having made any such comment.

On March 27, 2008, the three-judge panel issued a majority 2–1 opinion upholding Yohn's 2001 opinion but rejecting the bias and Batson claims, with Judge Ambro dissenting on the Batson issue. On July 22, 2008, Abu-Jamal's formal petition seeking reconsideration of the decision by the full Third Circuit panel of 12 judges was denied. On April 6, 2009, the United States Supreme Court also refused to hear Abu-Jamal's appeal. On January 19, 2010, the Supreme Court ordered the appeals court to reconsider its decision to rescind the death penalty, with the same three-judge panel convening in Philadelphia on November 9, 2010, to hear oral argument. On April 26, 2011, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed its prior decision to vacate the death sentence on the grounds that the jury instructions and verdict form were ambiguous and confusing.

Life as a prisoner


In 1991 Abu-Jamal published an essay in the Yale Law Journal, on the death penalty and his Death Row experience. In May 1994, Abu-Jamal was engaged by National Public Radio's All Things Considered
All Things Considered
All Things Considered is the flagship news program on the American network National Public Radio. It was the first news program on NPR, and is broadcast live worldwide through several outlets...

program to deliver a series of monthly three-minute commentaries on crime and punishment. The broadcast plans and commercial arrangement were canceled following condemnations from, among others, the Fraternal Order of Police
Fraternal Order of Police
The Fraternal Order of Police is an organization of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. It claims a membership of over 325,000 members organized in 2100 local chapters , organized into local lodges, state lodges, and the national Grand Lodge...

 and US Senator Bob Dole
Bob Dole
Robert Joseph "Bob" Dole is an American attorney and politician. Dole represented Kansas in the United States Senate from 1969 to 1996, was Gerald Ford's Vice Presidential running mate in the 1976 presidential election, and was Senate Majority Leader from 1985 to 1987 and in 1995 and 1996...

 (R-KS
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

). Abu-Jamal sued NPR for not airing his work, but a federal judge dismissed the suit. The commentaries later appeared in print in May 1995 as part of Live from Death Row
Live from Death Row
Live from Death Row, published in May 1995, is a collection of memoirs by American death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal. Publishers Addison-Wesley gave Abu-Jamal a $30,000 advance for the novel, prompting Maureen Faulkner, the widow of Daniel Faulkner, the Philadelphia Police Officer whom Abu-Jamal...

.

In 1999, he was invited to record a keynote address for the graduating class at The Evergreen State College
The Evergreen State College
The Evergreen State College is an accredited public liberal arts college and a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. It is located in Olympia, Washington, USA. Founded in 1967, Evergreen was formed to be an experimental and non-traditional college...

. The event was protested heavily. In 2000, he recorded a commencement address for Antioch College
Antioch College
Antioch College is a private, independent liberal arts college in Yellow Springs, Ohio, United States. It was the founder and the flagship institution of the six-campus Antioch University system. Founded in 1852 by the Christian Connection, the college began operating in 1853 with politician and...

. The now defunct New College of California School of Law
New College of California School of Law
New College of California School of Law was a private, non-profit law school in San Francisco, California. It was founded in 1973 as a part of the now defunct New College of California, and deemed itself the oldest public interest law school in the United States. It offered a full-time three-year...

 presented him with an honorary degree "for his struggle to resist the death penalty".

With occasional interruptions due to prison disciplinary actions, Abu-Jamal has for many years been a regular commentator on an online broadcast, sponsored by Prison Radio
Prison Radio
The Prison Radio Project is a San Francisco-based radio and activist project that produces the commentaries of several prisoners considered to be political prisoners, most notably Mumia Abu-Jamal. Multiple radio stations across the United States broadcast these commentaries...

, as well as a regular columnist for Junge Welt
Junge Welt
junge Welt is a German daily newspaper published in Berlin. The jW describes itself as a left and Marxist newspaperIt was first published on 12 February 1947 in the Soviet Sector of Berlin. junge Welt became the official newspaper of the Central Council of the Free German Youth on 12 November 1947...

, a Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 newspaper in Germany. In 1995, he was punished with solitary confinement
Solitary confinement
Solitary confinement is a special form of imprisonment in which a prisoner is isolated from any human contact, though often with the exception of members of prison staff. It is sometimes employed as a form of punishment beyond incarceration for a prisoner, and has been cited as an additional...

 for engaging in entrepreneur
Entrepreneur
An entrepreneur is an owner or manager of a business enterprise who makes money through risk and initiative.The term was originally a loanword from French and was first defined by the Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon. Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to a person who is willing to...

ship contrary to prison regulations. Subsequent to the airing of the 1996 HBO documentary Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Case For Reasonable Doubt?, which included footage from visitation interviews conducted with him, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is the Pennsylvania state agency that is responsible for the confinement, care and rehabilitation of approximately 51,000 inmates at state correctional facilities funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania...

 acted to ban outsiders from using any recording equipment in state prisons. In litigation before the US Court of Appeals in 1998 he successfully established his right to write for financial gain in prison. The same litigation also established that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections had illegally opened his mail in an attempt to establish whether he was writing for financial gain. When, for a brief time in August 1999, he began delivering his radio commentaries live on the Pacifica Network's
Pacifica Radio
Pacifica Radio is the oldest public radio network in the United States. It is a group of five independently operated, non-commercial, listener-supported radio stations that is known for its progressive/liberal political orientation. It is also a program service supplying over 100 affiliated...

 Democracy Now!
Democracy Now!
Democracy Now! and its staff have received several journalism awards, including the Gracie Award from American Women in Radio & Television; the George Polk Award for its 1998 radio documentary Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship, on the Chevron Corporation and the deaths of...

weekday radio newsmagazine, prison staff severed the connecting wires of his telephone from their mounting in mid-performance.

His publications include Death Blossoms: Reflections from a Prisoner of Conscience
Prisoner of conscience
Prisoner of conscience is a term defined in Peter Benenson's 1961 article "The Forgotten Prisoners" often used by the human rights group Amnesty International. It can refer to anyone imprisoned because of their race, religion, or political views...

, in which he explores religious themes, All Things Censored, a political critique examining issues of crime and punishment, Live From Death Row, a diary of life on Pennsylvania's death row, and We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party, which is a history of the Black Panthers drawing on autobiographical material.

Popular support and opposition




Abu-Jamal's supporters protest at perceived injustice or deplore the death penalty in his and other cases. Labor unions, US and foreign city governments, politicians, advocates, educators, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. is a leading United States civil rights organization and law firm based in New York City....

, and human rights advocacy organizations such as Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 and Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 have expressed concern about his case. They are opposed by the family of Daniel Faulkner, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Fraternal Order of Police
Fraternal Order of Police
The Fraternal Order of Police is an organization of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. It claims a membership of over 325,000 members organized in 2100 local chapters , organized into local lodges, state lodges, and the national Grand Lodge...

. In August 1999, the Fraternal Order of Police called for an economic boycott
Boycott
A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons...

 against all individuals and organizations that support Abu-Jamal.

Abu-Jamal has been made an honorary citizen of about 25 cities around the world, including Paris, Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Palermo
Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

 and Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

. In 2001, he received the sixth biennial Erich Mühsam
Erich Mühsam
Erich Mühsam was a German-Jewish anarchist essayist, poet and playwright. He emerged at the end of World War I as one of the leading agitators for a federated Bavarian Soviet Republic....

 Prize, which recognizes outstanding activism on behalf of a liberatory vision of human society in keeping with that of its anarchist
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 namesake; in particular, most of its awardees have been activists in the cause of social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

 for persecuted minorities. In October 2002, he was awarded honorary membership of the Berlin-based Association of Those Persecuted by the Nazi Regime – Federation of Antifascists and Antifascist Groups (VVN-BdA)
Union of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime
The Society of People Persecuted by the Nazi Regime – Federation of Anti-Fascists is a political organization founded in 1947....

.

On April 29, 2006, a newly-paved road in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis
Saint-Denis
Saint-Denis is a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the centre of Paris. Saint-Denis is a sous-préfecture of the Seine-Saint-Denis département, being the seat of the Arrondissement of Saint-Denis....

 was named Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal in his honor. In protest of the street-naming, US Congressman
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 Michael Fitzpatrick
Mike Fitzpatrick
Michael G. "Mike" Fitzpatrick is the U.S. Representative for . He is a member of the Republican Party. He was reelected to Congress in 2010, and previously represented the district from 2005 to 2007, but lost to Patrick Murphy in 2006....

 (R-PA
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

) and Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum
Richard John "Rick" Santorum is a lawyer and a former United States Senator from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Santorum was the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference -making him the third-ranking Senate Republican from 2001 until his leave in 2007. Santorum is considered both a social...

 (R-PA
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

) introduced resolutions in both Houses of Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 condemning the decision. The House of Representatives voted 368–31 in favor of the resolution. In December 2006, the 25th anniversary of the murder, the executive committee of the Republican Party
Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania
The Republican Party of Pennsylvania is based in Harrisburg in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is affiliated with the Republican Party of the United States.-Founding:...

 for the 59th Ward of the City of Philadelphia—covering approximately Germantown, Philadelphia
Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Germantown is a neighborhood in the northwest section of the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, about 7–8 miles northwest from the center of the city...

—filed two criminal complaints in the French legal system against the city of Paris and the city of Saint-Denis, accusing the municipalities of "glorifying" Abu-Jamal and alleging the offense "apology or denial of crime" in respect of their actions.

In 2007, the widow of Officer Faulkner coauthored a book with Philadelphia radio journalist Michael Smerconish
Michael Smerconish
Michael A. Smerconish is an American radio and television personality, newspaper columnist, author and MSNBC Political Analyst. His talk radio show is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at The Big Talker 1210 AM WPHT. He began his full time radio career in 2002...

 entitled Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Pain, Loss, and Injustice. The book was part memoir of Faulkner's widow, part discussion in which they chronicled Abu-Jamal's trial and discussed evidence for his conviction, and part discussion on supporting the death penalty. J. Patrick O'Connor, editor and publisher of crimemagazine.com, argues in his book The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal that the preponderance of evidence establishes that it was not Abu-Jamal but a passenger in Abu-Jamal's brother's car, Kenneth Freeman, who killed Faulkner, and that the Philadelphia Police Department and District Attorney's Office framed Abu-Jamal.

In 2010, investigative journalists performed a series of tests that produced results inconsistent with the case against Abu-Jamal. Dave Lindorff
Dave Lindorff
Dave Lindorff is an investigative reporter, a columnist for CounterPunch, and a contributor to Businessweek, The Nation, Extra! and Salon.com...

 and Linn Washington reproduced the shooting and showed that the shots which missed should have produced marks visible on the pavement. An expert photo analyst found no such marks visible in the highest-available-quality photo of the part of the crime scene where the body was found. A ballistics expert medical examiner said that the idea that police could have failed to recognise such marks at the crime scene was "absolute nonsense". Abu-Jamal's lawyer said that the results constituted "extraordinarily important new evidence that establishes clearly that the prosecutor and the Philadelphia Police Department were engaged in presenting knowingly false testimony".

See also


  • Alfonzo Giordano
    Alfonzo Giordano
    Alfonzo Giordano was a senior ranking officer in the Philadelphia Police Department , having achieved the rank of Inspector before his retirement in 1982. He was convicted of bribery charges in 1986....

  • In Prison My Whole Life
    In Prison My Whole Life
    In Prison My Whole Life is a 2008 documentary film about Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mumia was arrested the day William Francome was born. When Francome made this film he was 25 years old and Mumia was still on death row....

    - 2008 documentary film


External links


Video


Supporter groups


Opponent groups