Nieuws, gepost door: nn op 18/01/2018 01:04:20

Wanneer: 18/01/2018 - 15:49

reported by PRISON RADIO

New Hearing in Mumia’s Case set for 3/27/2018

Judge orders New District Attorney to address his request to “find out what happened to the missing Memo by taking action,” including a suggestion that they might depose the former ADA to get the answers.” He noted that he would require a status conference on 2/26/18, to hear details of their efforts. “I do not want to have another hearing in two months, and be in the same place. These questions need to be answered.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal, represented by Sam Spital of the NAACP and Judith Ritter, Professor at Widner, was in court in Philadelphia challenging his criminal conviction. Common Pleas Court judge Leon Tucker opened court with a query to the DA about his order that the prosecution produce testimony regarding a missing letter by former DA Ron Castille. This evidence, or evidence of a similar nature, could be a key to Mumia’s criminal defense appeals being reinstated.
In the courtroom were Mumia's attorneys, Bret Grote and Robert Boyle, who represent Mumia in "Abu-Jamal v. Wetzel", as well as Ramona Africa, Claude Guillaumaud-Pujol, Jacky Hortaut of the Collectif Francais "Liberons Mumia", Mirrelle Fanon Mendes-France from the Franz Fanon Foundation, and over 100 others.
As many of you know, in January a new District Attorney Larry Krasner was sworn in. Representing his office, Tracey Cavanaugh (Interim Supervisor of the PCRA Unit) and Nancy Winkelman (Interim Supervisor of the Law Department) asked the Judge for a continuance, in order to allow the new DA and staff to review the 18 outstanding “Williams’ cases” of which Mumia’s is one. They also asked for time because they are seeking to “formulate an office policy for their approach to these cases”. Certainly, a new approach would be welcome, given the intransigence of the previous office under now imprisoned former DA Seth Williams.

The U.S. Supreme Court precedent in William v. PA (2016) reversed the imposition of Terrence William’s death sentence because former DA Ron Castille failed to recuse himself when he was sitting on the PA Supreme Court.
Pam Africa with Mumia
The order addressing the missing memo has a history. Judge Leon Tucker ordered the DA to turn over any evidence of former PA Supreme Court Justice Ron Castille's "personal involvement" in Mumia Abu-Jamal's criminal appeals when he was District Attorney or an Assistant District Attorney. When they could not “find” any documents, Judge Tucker ordered that they deliver to his office the entire file of 31 boxes. Judge Tucker found a reference to a specific letter written by Castille, which the DA states now that they have lost. This action follows in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court admonishing the PA courts in the Williams case, for not recognizing that a judge must recuse themselves on cases they themselves actively prosecuted.

The parsing of concepts and words for the court revolve around "personal involvement". Was former DA and former PA Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille a key shot caller on Mumia’s case; was he “personally involved”? We know he personally signed years of briefs and appeals against Mumia. We know that this was the most high profile case in the office. And we know that information already released has Castille advocating to the then Governor Casey that the death penalty should be quickly imposed, especially for murders involving police officers as victims.

The question is simply, did District Attorney Ron Castille actively involve himself in decisions regarding Mumia’s case? And did he, as a PA Supreme Court Justice, review those very same decisions? And if so, was he professionally required to recuse himself, or could he remain unbiased regarding those decisions? Some courts have even stated that any appearance of bias requires recusal.

At stake is the reinstatement of over a decade of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s appeals. This action could lead to an order granting a new trial. The legal path to freedom starts right here in the Common Pleas court chamber of Judge Leon Tucker.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight, we win!
Noelle Hanrahan

Director, Prison Radio


you can write to governor Tom Wolf, who has the power to grant Mumia freedom.
Governor Tom Wolf
508 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120 U.S.A.

or write to Mumia himself to wish him strenght and power.
Mumia Abu-Jamal
#AM 8335
SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932

or go to the open facebook page:


The following interview with Suzanne Ross, Ph.D., was first published in Tribune des Travailleurs (Workers Tribune), the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France (POID). It is reprinted here from Issue No. 68 (‪Jan. 13, 2018‬) of the IWC Newsletter, published weekly by the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International. Dr. Ross is the International Spokesperson for International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

• Q: Mumia's life is again in danger. Could you explain to us why this is so?

• Suzanne Ross: The State in all its various components, and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in particular, which has always had a definitive role in the case of Mumia because it exerts such a huge control over Philadelphia and Pennsylvania politicians, have never given up on their determination to silence and kill Mumia. There were two legal attempts to kill him when he was sentenced to be executed, and death warrants were actually signed by the governor of Pennsylvania in 1995 and 1999. Because of the power of the international movement to free Mumia, both death warrants were ultimately vacated, and in 2011 Mumia’s death sentence was overturned. He was instead sentence to a slow death in prison: life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In 2015 Mumia developed a life-threatening illness that was misdiagnosed and mistreated by the prison medical personnel to the point where Mumia was finally rushed to the hospital in a diabetic coma. Mumia had never had diabetes before. After an international campaign, and after an independent doctor insisted that Mumia was suffering from Hepatitis C and needed the cure for it, he was finally given the cure, through a court hearing and order. That entire process took more than two years.

Mumia is once again sick, suffering from a painful skin problem that leads to intolerable itching which has led to scratching and widespread bleeding. Mumia’s health has deteriorated steadily over the past year and a half. Once again, there is no clear diagnosis; Mumia has not been properly diagnosed or treated, and we are calling for him to be sent to an outside hospital to receive the much-needed diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Given the State’s pernicious intents vis-a-vis Mumia, and its total control over his health and life, when he is in the custody of its prisons, his life is ALWAYS in danger. No longer able to execute him legally -- as the courts, all the way to the Supreme Court -- ruled that Mumia could not be sentenced to death, we have to be watchful for any extra-legal ways in which Mumia can be executed while in prison. The recent health crises have certainly raised the question of malicious intervention. The only way to protect Mumia’s life is to have him released from prison.

• Q: Next ‪January 17‬, there will be a hearing at the Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. What is the importance of this hearing for the campaign to free Mumia?

• Suzanne Ross: The reason the upcoming ‪January 17th‬ hearing is so important is that for the first time in over a decade the issue of Mumia’s innocence is potentially before the court. Based on a recent precedent-setting ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in another case, there is now an issue of a conflict of interest for Ronald Castille, who was a senior Assistant District Attorney (DA) during Mumia’s 1982 trial and was the Philadelphia District Attorney during Mumia’s direct appeal of conviction and death sentence. Later, Ronald Castille was a Judge on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court during the entire process of Mumia’s appeals of his post-conviction proceedings -- from 1995 -2008. As such, Castille served as both prosecutor and judge in Mumia’s case.

The recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that “it is a violation of the due-process right to an impartial tribunal free of judicial bias if a judge participating in a criminal appeal had a ‘significant personal involvement as a prosecutor in a critical decision’” is the basis for Mumia’s current appeal in the Philadelphia court.

The argument his lawyers are making is that Castille should have removed himself from the case when he became a Pennsylvania Supreme Court judge, precisely what he was asked to do on two occasions by Mumia’s attorneys, and by a grassroots campaign. Instead, Castille refused to recuse (remove) himself from the case, insisting that he could be fair! Now the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that in a situation where the DA has significant involvement in the case he should not rule on it if and when he then becomes a State judge.

The issue before the current judge, Judge Leon Tucker, on the case at this point, is whether Castille was significantly involved in the case when he was Philadelphia’s DA. The DA’s Office says he was not, and Mumia’s attorneys argue that he was in fact deeply involved. Castille is a powerful, now-retired Republican politician in Philadelphia, pro-police, pro-death penalty, much supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, and very antagonistic to both Mumia and the MOVE organization, which Mumia has supported since the 70’s when he was a Philadelphia reporter.

Mumia’s attorneys argue that it is hard to believe that he would not have been deeply involved in the most renowned national, and even international, death penalty case in his jurisdiction. They are calling for the release of all the records pertaining to Castille’s role in Mumia’s case, many of which have certainly been hidden if not already destroyed. In fact, ‪on January 17th‬, the DA has been ordered by Judge Tucker to bring to court the attorney who has claimed that the documents Mumia’s attorneys are asking for are “missing”.

Among the documents that were located there was a quote from Castille, when he was DA, calling for the speedy execution of all those prisoners who were sentenced to death but had not yet been executed. That surely would have included Mumia, and that certainly suggests significant involvement. The battle before us is having all the relevant records on Castille and his relationship to Mumia’s case while he was working in the District Attorney’s office. We believe that if those records are fully opened up, evidence will surface regarding the conspiracy to deny Mumia a fair appeals process (after the trial for Mumia was so rigged by the notoriously racist pro-death penalty Judge, Albert Sabo).

If the Judge rules that Castille was involved in such a way that his later participation as a Supreme Court Judge was unconstitutional, that would essentially erase everything that took place after the trial, and reopen the entire appeals process. The issues reopened would be: ineffective assistance of trial counsel; the intentional exclusion of African-Americans from Mumia’s jury (a major issue on which there have been Supreme Court rulings); misleading of the jury by the prosecutor as to the lack of finality of their ruling (there will be “appeal after appeal” he said, suggesting that they were not bound to meet the constitutional standard of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”); the right to self-representation and to be in the courtroom during the trial; police and prosecutorial fabrication of evidence of guilt; false confession; phony ballistics evidence; intimidation of witnesses; and suppression of evidence of innocence, including a confession by someone else.

Mumia would have an excellent chance of proving his innocence and should, according to standards of justice or even the U.S. Constitution, at least get a new trial, and very possibly release because of the 35 years he has spent in prison, almost 30 in isolation on death row!

But this is the U.S., with its history and present reality of slavery-rooted racism, class bias, and a repressive apparatus meant to silence dissent. Mumia continues to be the “voice of the voiceless”, speaking out on a weekly basis, writing and by now publishing seven books, all but one from death row. This is a country with the highest rate of incarceration in the world, and Mumia regularly addresses that issue and its historical roots in slavery.

So we cannot anticipate an easy struggle ahead of us. It is for that reason that the international movement is so critical. It was the international movement, including of course the movement in the U.S., that has kept Mumia alive all these years, in the face of so many government officials working with the FOP to silence and kill him. We must continue that struggle not only for Mumia, but for the anti-mass incarceration movement, the anti-racist and anti-police brutality movement, and the worldwide anti-imperialist movement. Free Mumia and all Political Prisoners!
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