IN THE COURT OF
FOR THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT
) Case No. 8201-1357-59
-vs- ) RECEIVED
) NOV 21 2001
MUMIA ABU-JAMAL ) PCRA UNIT
Petitioner. ) PCRA
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
In accordance with
Criminal Rule of Procedure 909 (formerly 1509), the Court hereby announces
its intention to dismiss the Instant Post Conviction Relief Act Petition
on December 11, 2001. Petitioner will be given the appropriate notice.
The reasons for dismissal are detailed below.
HISTORY OF THE CASE
On December 9, 1981, Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was shot
and killed while on duty in Center City, Philadelphia. Petitioner Wesley
Cook a/k/a Mumia Abu Jamal was arrested at the scene, taken to the hospital,
then taken to Police Headquarters where he was charged and held for trial
in the murder of Officer Faulkner.
Anthony Jackson, Esq., was appointed to represent Petitioner at trial.
Petitioner was also permitted to represent himself at various stages of
the proceedings with Jackson acting as backup counsel.
On July 2, 1982 following a jury trial, the Honorable Albert F. Sabo presiding,
Petitioner was convicted of murder in the first degree and related offenses.
On July 3, 1983, following the penalty phase of the trial, the same jury
sentenced Petitioner to death.
A direct appeal was timely filed. Marilyn Gelb, Esq. was appointed as
appellate counsel. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania affirmed Petitioner's
judgment of sentence. Commonwealth v. Abu-Jamal, 521 Pa. 188, 555 A.2d
846 (1989), reargument denied, 524 Pa. 105, 569 A.2d 915 (1990). The United
States Supreme Court denied certiorari, Abu-Jamal v. Pennsylvania, 498
U.S. 881 (1990), and two petitions for rehearing, Abu-Jamal v. Pennsylvania,
498 U.S. 993 (1990); Abu-Jamal v. Pennsylvania, 501 U.S. 1214 (1991).
The direct appeal process concluded on June 10, 1991.
On July 5, 1995, Leonard Weinglass, Esq., and Daniel R. Williams, Esq.,
who had been retained by Petitioner, filed a Post Conviction Relief Act
[hereinafter PCRA] petition on his behalf in the Court of Common Pleas.
In 1995, there were no time limitations for the filing of PCRA petitions.
As is the usual procedure, the trial Judge, the Honorable Albert F. Sabo,
presided over hearings on that first petition, during which Petitioner
was permitted to present evidence. Following these proceedings, post conviction
relief was denied. Pending appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Petitioner
filed three separate requests for remand to the trial court. These applications
encompassed requests for opportunities to present further testimony, requests
for discovery, requests to submit a videotape allegedly relevant to Batson
issues, and requests to reassign the case to another judge. Twice, remand
was granted for the purpose of including additional testimony in the record.
Other requests were denied, and both the trial court and the Supreme Court
declined PCRA relief. Commonwealth v. Mumia Abu-Jamal, a/k/a Wesley Cook,
553 Pa. 485, 720 A.2d 79 (1998).
On October 15, 1999, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for a writ of
habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Eastern District
of Pennsylvania. He also requested that Leonard Weinglass, Esq., and Daniel
R. Williams, Esq., be removed from the case. On April 6, 2000, these attorneys
were allowed to withdraw from federal court proceedings. New counsel,
Marlene Kamish, Esq., Nick Brown, Esq., Eliot Grossman, Esq. and Michael
Farrell, Esq. entered their appearances. On May 4, 2001, they filed a
motion in federal court requesting an order authorizing the deposition
of Arnold Beverly, who in 1999 confessed to Officer Faulkner' s murder.
On July 19, 2001, the Honorable William H. Yohn, Jr., U.S.D.J., issued
a memorandum and order denying the motion. Mumia Abu-Jamal v. Horn, Case
No. 88 Civ 5089 (E.D. Pa. 2001).
Meanwhile, on July 3, 2001, Petitioner filed this, his second PCRA petition,
in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The petition was accompanied
by a motion to admit attorneys Kamish, Grossman and Brown pro hac vice,
requests for 286 items of discovery and a request for depositions of ten
persons. Petitioner also filed a motion in federal court requesting that
federal habeas proceedings be held in abeyance pending the resolution
of the PCRA petition.
Following a reply by the Commonwealth, a status hearing was held before
the undersigned and counsel were directed to provide the court with briefs
on two specific issues:
1) whether the Court had jurisdiction to entertain the PCRA petition;
2) whether a hearing was necessary for any purpose.
These briefs and numerous unsolicited pleadings were filed.
Having considered the submissions by the parties and the appropriate law,
the Court concludes that it lacks jurisdiction to entertain the PCRA petition.
Consequently, the petition will be denied, and requests for discovery,
depositions and further hearings are also denied. Additionally, Petitioner's
filing of November 16, 2001, entitled "Petitioner Jamal' s Notice
of Filing of Evidence in Support of Memorandum of law on Court's Jurisdiction
to Hear Petition for Post-Conviction Relief and/or Habeas Corpus"
is stricken because it was not filed with leave of court.
Before 1986, the legislation enabling the filing of PCRA petitions did
not contain timeliness requirements for the filing of requests for relief.
In November, 1995, the Legislature amended the Act and limited the power
of the Court of Common Pleas to entertain PCRA claims by placing time
restrictions on the filing of petitions.
The applicable time requirements for filing PCRA petitions are:
(b) Time for filing petition.
(1) Any petition under this subchapter, including a second or subsequent
petition, shall be filed within one year of the date the judgment becomes
final, unless the petition alleges and the petitioner proves that:
(i) the failure to raise the claim previously was the result of interference
by government officials with the presentation of the claim in violation
of the Constitution or laws of this Commonwealth or the Constitution or
laws of the United States;
(ii) the facts upon which the claim is predicated were unknown to the
petitioner and could not have been ascertained by the exercise of due
(iii) the right asserted is a constitutional right that was recognized
by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania after the time period provided in
this section and has been held by that court to apply retroactively.
(2) Any petition invoking an exception provided in paragraph (1) shall
be filed within 60 days of the date the claim could have been presented.
42 Pa. C.S.A. 9545(b)(1)-(2). (Emphasis added).
These provisions, which apply to all PCRA petitions filed after January
16, 1996, are "mandatory and jurisdictional in nature . . . [N]o
court may properly disregard or alter them in order to reach the merits
of the claims raised in a PCRA petition that is filed in an untimely manner."
See, Commonwealth v. Carr, 768 A.,2d 1164, 1167 (Pa. Super. 2001); citing
Commonwealth v. Murray, 562 Pa. 1, 753 A.2d 201 202-03 (2000). (Emphasis
The term "jurisdiction" has a specialized meaning in the law.
Jurisdiction is the power of a court to act in a given case. All courts
have limits on their jurisdiction or right to hear cases. For example,
a court lacks jurisdiction if the parties have no connection to the place
where the court sits or if the events of the case did not take place within
a limited geographical area. Some courts can only hear family law cases,
or cases involving a limited amount of money. Similarly, a court does
not have the power, or jurisdiction, to hear a case unless it is filed
within a certain time period, or if it is not brought to trial within
deadlines that have been established. In order for a court to rule on
a case, it must have jurisdiction over both the parties and the subject
A PCRA court, like any other court, cannot create its own jurisdiction;
this can be done only by the legislature or by the state or federal constitutions.
The PCRA court is required to apply the law enacted by the legislature
and interpreted by the appellate courts of Pennsylvania in order to determine
whether a PCRA petition was timely filed and, consequently, whether the
PCRA court has the legal power (jurisdiction) to rule on the merits of
Although the Court of Common Pleas is a court of general jurisdiction
under the Pennsylvania Constitution, post-conviction relief was unknown
at common law and is purely a creature of statute. As such, it is subject
to such limitations and conditions as the legislature has seen fit to
establish. These terms not only guide the court in administering the Act
but also limit its power to do so.
The legislature and appellate courts of this Commonwealth have made it
clear that a PCRA petition must be filed within strict time limits or
a court lacks jurisdiction to entertain that petition. Commonwealth v.
Fahy, 558 Pa. 313, 737 A.2d 214 (1999); Commonwealth v. Banks, 556 Pa.
1, 726 A.2d 374 (1999); Commonwealth v. Peterkin, 554 Pa. 547, 722 A.2d
638 (1999). Again, without jurisdiction, a court does not have the legal
power to act. See, Bernhard v. Bernhard, 447 Pa. Super 118, 668 A.2d 546
It is clear from the language of the statute and the case law cited above
that if the claims in a PCRA petition have not been raised in a timely
manner, the court lacks jurisdiction and must dismiss the petition; it
has no discretion to do otherwise. Commonwealth v. Hoffman, 780 A.2d 700
(Pa. Super. 2001).
The instant PCRA petition is Petitioner's second. As is clearly set out
in the PCRA statute, second and subsequent PCRA petitions cannot be considered
unless filed either within one year of the time that direct appeals were
finished, or "within 60 days of the date the claim could have been
presented." 18 Pa. C.S.A. 9545 (b)(2). The statute goes on to explain
that this means that the Act only permits the raising of claims where
"the facts upon which the claim is predicated were unknown to the
petitioner and could not have been ascertained by the exercise of due
diligence." 18 Pa. C.S.A. 9545 (b)(1)(ii). Direct appeals ended on
June 10, 1991, and this petition was filed more than one year after that
date. Therefore, PCRA relief is available to Mr. Abu-Jamal only it these
claims have been raised within sixty days of the time he knew or should
have known of the important facts giving rise to these claims.
No new material facts were discovered within the sixty days immediately
preceding the filing of this Petition (i.e., the interval between May
4, 2001 and July 3, 2001, the Petition' s filing date). One allegedly
new fact, as discussed below, is not material. Petitioner argues, however,
that the court has jurisdiction to consider the merits of his claims by
reason of several alternative arguments. First, Petitioner invokes §9445
(b)(1)(i) which offers an exception to the sixty-day time limit "where
the failure to raise the claim previously was the result of interference
by government officials with the presentation of the claim in violation
of the Constitution or laws of this Commonwealth or the Constitution or
laws of the United States."
This argument faces an initial hurdle because, as Petitioner concedes,
§9545(b)(4) expressly excludes defense counsel from the definition
of government officials, and these claims are based on the alleged malfeasance
or nonfeasance of his defense counsel, not of the prosecutors or other
government officials. He addresses this difficulty by claiming that earlier
defense counsel refused to investigate or utilize various facts and theories
that Petitioner now wishes to present to the courts. He next contends
that since his trial and appeals have so far been unsuccessful, his prior
attorneys should be deemed to have acted as agents of the Commonwealth
and, therefore, are government officials. In other words, counsels' claimed
errors or misdeeds are equated with governmental interference.
For numerous reasons, the court cannot accept this argument. There is
no exception to the timely filing requirement premised on what amounts
to a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The language of the Post
Conviction Hearing Act is unambiguous, and this court cannot disregard
the clear language of the statute. Elementary principals of statutory
construction forbid evading the jurisdictional time limit in this manner.
Extending the jurisdictional filing limit exemplifies the concept of the
exception that swallows the rule. In addition to a tradition of respect
for clear statutory language, the courts are also guided by an understanding
that finality is necessary in all litigation. In any case where the defense
counsel has made an error or has chosen a strategy that is unsuccessful,
the Commonwealth is arguably the beneficiary. Under Petitioner' s reading
of the Act, defense counsel could be treated as agents of the Commonwealth
in any case where a Petitioner is not acquitted. Such an absurd result
cannot have been within the legislature's intention of bringing finality
Petitioner alternatively asserts jurisdiction based on §9445(b)(1)(ii),
which provides an exception to the filing deadline, where the facts supporting
a claim "were unknown to the petitioner and could not have been ascertained
by the exercise of due diligence." In plain language, when a convicted
defendant learns something new and important about his case, or when the
time comes when he should have learned such a fact, he must file his PCRA
petition within no more than sixty days.
Again, this argument faces a serious obstacle because Petitioner does
not, and indeed cannot allege that the facts giving rise to the claims
in the instant petition were unknown to him personally. Since his petition
was filed on July 3, 2001, he must only base his claims on material facts
which he learned of on or after May 4, 2001. Unfortunately, it is clear
from the record and from Petitioner' s own pleadings and exhibits that
Petitioner, prior counsel, and even current counsel knew of the existence
of the facts on which this petition is premised months, or in some cases
years, before May 4, 2001. Petitioner never alleges that he was personally
unaware of the relevant facts or strategies chosen by former counsel (including
The Petitioner asserts an additional, more convoluted, explanation for
demanding that a petition filed on July 3, 2001, should be considered
to be timely. This theory relies upon an assertion that the lawyers who
filed and litigated Abu-Jamal' s first PCRA petition, Messrs. Weinglass
and Williams, intentionally declined to raise points of error concerning
the conduct of trial and direct appeal counsel, intentionally refused
to present the testimony of various witnesses who either changed their
stories or mysteriously appeared years after the original trial, and skewed
their presentation of those witnesses who did appear at the first PCRA
hearings in order to insure that Petitioner would fail to overturn his
The reason offered for this course of conduct is that all of these attorneys
believed that foreclosing Petitioner's chances for a new trial would increase
the sales of Mr. Williams' book. The theory further posits that in order
to destroy Petitioner's chances of success, and thereby boost book sales,
the lawyers intentionally misled Petitioner into acquiescing in decisions
which were harmful to his interests.
May 4, 2001 is the date on which present counsel entered their appearances
in the U.S. District Court for purposes of pursuing federal habeas corpus
relief. Petitoner' s argument is that May 4, 2001 is somehow the first
date on which Petitioner could have raised his claims. To do this, he
claims that his previous attorneys intentionally subverted his cause by
failing or refusing to present helpful evidence and by presenting damaging
evidence. In his view, these former attorneys must necessarily have at
all times been "actively undermining and sabotaging his (Petitioner's)
At the outset, it must be pointed out that this attorney fraud theory
collapses by virtue of its lack of external and internal logic. Why would
hitherto honorable, capable and professional attorneys desert their training,
their ethics, their professionalism and place their very right to practice
law in jeopardy? Why would one or more of these attorneys behave so heinously
when the only possible advantage would be to the one among them who authored
the book? How would a public failure to secure relief for a client facing
the death penalty improve sales of a book?
However, it is not necessary to make a credibility determination as to
whether Petitioner's former attorneys intentionally caused his first PCRA
petition to fail in order to promote the sales of Mr. Williams' book,
Executing Justice. It is not even necessary to inquire how Petitioner's
failure, and by extension, counsel's failure, would enhance Mr. Williams'
marketability as an author because Petitioner was aware of any claims
relating to that book on or before March 21, 2001. We know this because
he filed a lawsuit against Williams and the publisher on that date to
prevent the book' s publication. This lawsuit, Mumia Abu-Jamal v. St.
Martin's Press and Attorney Daniel R. Williams, USDC (W. Pa.), Case No.
01-540, was unsuccessful and Executing Justice published in April, 2001.
In any event, the savagery of the attacks on prior counsel does not prevent
the underlying requirements of the law. All of these accusations are mere
conjectures built upon two facts. One fact is the result of the first
PCRA petition, i.e., its failure to persuade the Court of Common Pleas
or the Supreme Court to overturn the original verdict, and the other fact
is that attorney Daniel Williams published a book describing in part his
experiences representing Petitioner.
Both events took place well outside the time limits for the filing of
this petition. The first PCRA was ruled upon by the Court of Common Pleas,
the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and finally by the U.S. Supreme Court by
1999. The book was published in April, 2001. Petitioner' s own evidence
establishes that drafts of the book chapters in progress were made available
to Petitioner throughout the year 2000, or at the latest March, 2001.
A letter addressed to Petitioner discussing the book is dated February
2001. Petitioner was in federal court trying to halt that publication
on March 21, 2001. Petitioner knew of the book' s contents before May
4, 2001. By exercise of even minimal diligence he could and indeed may
have actually been aware of its contents sometime in 2000. To the extent
that it is the content of the Williams book which allegedly provided the
epiphany revealing counsels' purported treachery, Petitioner should reasonably
have been aware of the necessary information in the year 2000.
The attacks on prior counsel are seemingly also designed to draw attention
away from the fact that this portion of Abu-Jamal' s petition is based
upon disagreements with trial strategy decisions made in 1995 through
1997, and upon exceptions to the weight and credibility of the evidence.
Neither of these issues is reviewable in PCRA proceedings. There is nothing
very surprising about prior counsels' decisions not to call various witnesses,
including Arnold Beverly, at the PCRA hearings. Aggrandizing themselves
by confessing to participation in high profile cases is not unusual for
persons. Rightly or wrongly, if counsel believes that a witness is dishonest,
there is an ethical duty not to present such perjury to the court, and
there is a very real risk of doing more harm than good to a client' s
cause. It is hornbook law that witnesses who recant and witnesses who
mysteriously appear long after trial are regarded with suspicion by the
The Beverly confession, which is the linchpin for all the arguments for
reconsidering and reinterpreting the trial evidence, was not rejected
behind the Petitoner' s back. The debate among counsel was apparently
so bitter that one of them removed herself from further participation
in the case. Not only was Petitioner aware of the controversy, it is impossible
not to infer that he chose to align himself with the lawyers who refused
to call Beverly as a witness: he had a choice, and the fact that he continued
to permit Weinglass and Williams to represent him refutes quite effectively
any argument that he either did not know of or did not agree with their
The statute places the requirement of filing a timely PCRA petition on
the Petitioner personally, not on counsel. The reason is a simple and
practical one. After direct appeals have been exhausted, counsel cease
to represent a Petitioner in most cases. At the time of filing these petitions,
most convicted persons have no counsel because they have no open case
before the courts: appeals have ended. The Rules of Criminal Procedure
address this situation by providing for the appointment of counsel after
the filing of a PCRA petition (see Pa.R.Crim.Pro. 1504). By way of contrast,
there is nothing in the statute which provides for tolling of the filing
deadline while a defendant obtains PCRA counsel. Petitioner attempts to
designate a petition as timely merely because it is filed sixty days after
new counsel formally entered their appearances on his behalf in a different
court and in a different matter. There is no logical or legal support
for this position.
The defendant is a literate and articulate man, who has participated actively
in his case from its inception. There can be no argument that he is or
was unable to articulate or write a petition. There is no claim that prison
or other government officials denied him access to the mails or to pen
and paper. It is this latter situation that § 9545(b)(1)(i) was intended
The requirements of a petition are not onerous: the courts regularly receive
nearly illiterate and illegible petitions scribbled laboriously on scrap
paper. These are treated with seriousness. Surely the drafting of even
a minimally informative petition was not beyond the skills of the Petitioner,
who is regularly described by his partisans as an award winning journalist.
Petitioner has advanced no reasons why he could not have filed a timely
In summary, Petitioner was not deceived as to any aspect of his case,
and was not obstructed from filing a petition. Petitioner's additional
argument is a generalized appeal to the equitable powers of this court
and must also fail. Equity only permits a range of remedies in cases where
the power to act already exists. As discussed above, untimely filing deprives
this court of jurisdiction, and a court has no equitable powers absent
An equally unsupportable request is that the trial court should treat
the instant petition as an 'amendment' of the first petition. That matter
was litigated, and ruled on by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The matter
is closed and this court can neither reopen it nor overturn a higher court.
The court will specifically review the timeliness issues with respect
to Petitioner's claims in approximately the order which they are raised.
The petition is more than 250 pages long, poorly organized, and extremely
repetitive, making exact references difficult.
Claim I is that evidence, in the form of the confession of Arnold Beverly
that Beverly and an unnamed accomplice shot Officer Daniel Faulkner, entitles
Petitioner to a new trial. Claim I goes on to allege that Beverly's confession
"destroys the whole edifice" of the case which the prosecution
constructed against the Petitioner at the original trial and at the 
PCRA hearing. It demands a complete reassessment of the whole of the prosecution
case. [T]he prosecution . . . suborn[ed] perjury and present[ed] fabricated
evidence throughout Petitioner's trial. In so doing, the prosecution perpetrated
a fraud upon the court" Petition of July 3, 2001 at 48-49.
To bolster this claim, Petitioner challenges the weight and sufficiency
of other evidence presented at the trial in 1982, advancing arguments
that have repeatedly been made and rejected by the appellate courts. Most
critically, the elements of Claim I revolve around facts long known to
the Petitioner, as discussed above. The internal dispute among counsel
concerning the Beverly confession and the controversy and litigation surrounding
the publication of the Williams book establish that Petitioner knew or
should have known what he need to know to evaluate counsels' good faith
before May 2001.
Claim II is that PCRA counsel improperly failed to file a second PCRA
petition in 1999 setting forth the arguments raised in Claim I, but that
does not explain why Petitioner himself did not file a new PCRA or amend
the first one. There is no contention that Petitioner was misled into
believing that such a petition had been filed. The duty to file is Petitioner's
personal obligation, as discussed above.
Claim III opens with a contention that former PCRA counsel did not ask
Petitioner for his version of events. There is no showing that Petitioner
was prevented from giving his version of events to counsel, to the jury
during the trial, or to the courts. Even if he had been somehow prevented
from doing so, he knew of this fact well before May 4, 2001. Claim III
also accuses counsel of including falsehoods in his book, Executing Justice.
The accuracy of that book is of no legal significance. The remainder of
Claim III is a vague and disjointed laundry list of lapses in first PCRA
counsels' representation. All of these claims rest upon facts and events
of which Petitioner was aware before May 4, 2001. Additionally, they are
baseless because prior counsel presumably read the statute and record
of the case and understood that these claims had been previously litigated
and so were not properly raised at the PCRA state. See, Commonwealth v.
Beasley, 544 Pa. 554, 673 A.2d 773 (1996).
Claim IV asserts that prior PCRA counsel failed to address trial counsel's
failure to show the existence or supposed importance of a passenger in
Petitioner's brother' s automobile. Since Petitioner was unarguably present
at the scene, and has never posited any reason why information known to
him or his brother could not have been brought forth twenty years ago,
this claim is also untimely. This issue was previously litigated. The
conduct of trial counsel and the failure to present defendant's brother
at trial has already been ruled upon. See, Commonwealth v. Mumia Abu-Jamal,
553 Pa. 485, 720 A.2d 79 (1998); Commonwealth v. Abu-Jamal, 521 Pa. 188,
555 A.2d 846 (1989).
Claim V is that trial counsel and prior PCRA counsel did not attack the
allegedly damaging testimony of eyewitness Robert Chobert. These facts
were also known to Petitioner no later than 1995 as he attended the PCRA
hearing. In addition, the Supreme Court has already addressed these claims.
A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel "does not save an otherwise
untimely [PCRA] petition for review on the merits." Fahy, supra,
737 A.2d at 223.
Claim VI is a synthesis of the earlier claims, organized under the heading
of failure to call various persons to testify at the 1995 PCRA hearings.
Again, Petitioner knew in 1995 who did and did not testify at those hearings,
as he attended them, and has not alleged that he was unaware of then counsel's
decisions. In addition, he knew or should have known of the information
necessary to evaluate counsels' good faith before May, 2001.
Claim VII is in part an objection to a procedural ruling by the judge
at the PCRA hearing and in part a claim of failure to call a ballistics
expert as a witness. Since they should have raised this claim in the appeal
of the first PCRA petition, it is waived. There is no showing that Petitioner
did not know or could not have raised these allegations at the proper
Claim VIII is that former PCRA counsel failed to investigate allegations
of disciplinary actions taken against trial counsel some ten years after
his representation of the Petitioner. Assuming for the sake of argument
that Petitioner' s allegations are true, he has not explained, and this
court is unable to discern, how disciplinary actions against trial counsel
in the 1990s had any impact on trial counsel's representation of him in
the 1980s. Nor is there any showing that Petitioner did not know, nor
could not have learned of such disciplinary action before May 4, 2001.
Claim IX is a claim of error by appellate counsel Marilyn Gelb, Esq. Her
representation ended in 1991, and the time in which Petitioner knew or
should have known of any lapses on her part and within which he should
have acted regarding them, has long since passed.
Claim X is the only one where Petitioner purports to meet the threshold
requirement of filing a PCRA claim within 60 days of discovery of the
facts giving rise to that claim. It is not possible to ascertain if the
claim is timely filed because it is not clear that Petitioner could not
have learned of the facts sooner. Even if the issue of timeliness is resolved
in Petitioner's favor, he is still not entitled to relief.
Claim X avers that a former court reporter working in City Hall during
the trial in this case in 1983 overheard a racist remark privately made
by the trial judge regarding Petitioner. If true, intemperate remarks
and racist attitudes by anyone involved in the justice system are deeply
troubling. The Supreme Court, the ultimate disciplinary mechanism for
governance of the courts, takes these matters seriously and can be expected
to address them promptly and firmly. That is not the function of the PCRA
court. The question before this court is not what attitudes and opinions
the trial judge may have held, the question is whether the rulings he
made were improper. Since this was a jury trial, as long as the presiding
Judge's rulings were legally correct, claims as to what might have motivated
or animated those rulings are not relevant. The legal propriety of Judge
Sabo' s rulings and courtroom conduct have already been examined on direct
appeal, and on appeal from prior PCRA hearings. See, Commonwealth v. Mumia
Abu-Jamal, 553 Pa. 485, 720 A.2d 79 (1998), and cases cited therein. There
is no legal basis for this court to reexamine them at this time.
Therefore, the following Notice is given:
NOTICE PURSUANT TO PENNSYLVANIA
RULE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE 909
Date: November 21, 2001
You are hereby advised that in twenty (20) days from the date of this
NOTICE, your request for post-conviction relief will be dismissed without
further proceedings. No response to this notice is required. If, however,
you choose to respond, your response is due within twenty (20) calendar
days of the above date.
BY THE COURT,