Nov. 13, 2003
Court Refuses to hear evidence
Mumia activists again demand justice
In response to last month's Penn sylvania Supreme Court ruling that
turned down Mumia Abu-Jamal's appeals, supporters gathered outside the
Federal Buil d ing here on Nov. 1 to demand justice and voice their
outrage over the court decision.
Abu-Jamal is an African American journalist known as the "Voice of the
Voice less." He has been unjustly incarcerated since 1981, after being
accused of killing a white police officer. He was sentenced to death
after a completely biased trial, and has only been saved from execution
by an international movement demanding justice in his case.
As passing cars responded to the "Honk for Mumia" signs held by
protesters on street corners around Liberty Bell Plaza, pedestrians took
flyers explaining the case and then stopped to listen to speakers
calling for Abu-Jamal's freedom.
Back in 2001, Federal Judge William H. Yohn had overturned Abu-Jamal's
death sentence, but refused to hear evidence challenging his conviction.
Despite Yohn's ruling, Abu-Jamal has remained on Pennsylvania's death
row and is in danger of having his death sentence reinstated.
This Oct. 8, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied his legal appeal that
would have allowed new evidence to be introduced, including a videotaped
confession in which one Arnold Beverly said that he, not Abu-Jamal, had
murdered officer Daniel Faulkner. In rejecting even viewing the Beverly
confession, the court cited the "untimeliness" of the evidence proving
Abu-Jamal's innocence, and cited Yohn's infamous 2001 decision that
"innocence is no defense."
The Pennsylvania court also dismissed the testimony of Philadelphia
court stenographer Terri Maurer Carter, who said she had overheard
Mumia's original trial judge, Albert Sabo, state in relation to Mumia's
case, "Yeah, and I'm going to help 'em fry the n****r."
While the court could not reject this evidence on the basis of
"timeliness," it was disregarded because the issue of Sabo's racist bias
against Mumia, according to the court, had been previously raised and
rejected--by the same court--and therefore this new evidence proving
Sabo's bias was deemed to be a "reopening" of previous litigation.
Once again, one of the state's Supreme Court justices, Ronald Castile,
who had been one of the original Philadelphia pro secutors in Mumia's
case, refused to remove himself from the proceeding, despite a request
from the defense that he do so.
Speakers at the Nov. 1 rally expressed outrage that the courts could
rule "innocence is no defense" and refuse to hear evidence proving that
a judge in a capital case had been not only racially biased against the
defendant but clearly partial to the prosecution.
Following the rally, supporters gathered for a meeting to plan for
activities in December and April in support of Abu-Jamal. For
information, contact (215) 476-8812 or [email protected].
- Betsey Piette