Incarceration Nation

“Progressive” District Attorney Decides Against Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Rachel Wolkenstein

August 30, 2018 is set for final arguments by District Attorney Larry Krasner and Mumia Abu-Jamal in his pending post-conviction petition to vacate his 1998-2012 appeals denials. At stake is whether the legal path to challenging Mumia’s conviction and winning his freedom is opened. For months D.A. Krasner said he was reviewing policy and conducting a search of files in 70 capital cases. Then on April 30 Krasner’s office announced its position in opposition to Mumia’s pending PCRA (Post Conviction Relief Act) petition. They said after reviewing its files there was no evidence that former Philadelphia D.A. Ronald Castille had the requisite “significant, personal involvement” in a critical prosecutorial decision to prove a due process violation because of judicial bias when he deliberated as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice in Mumia’s appeals.

This follows in the footsteps of former District Attorneys Edward Rendell, Ronald Castille, Lynne Abraham and Seth Williams who denied the established facts and evidence of violations of due process rights in Mumia’s trial and conviction, and that Mumia is innocent and framed. Now, “progressive” D.A. Larry Krasner denies the conflict of interest and bias of Justice Castille refusing to recuse himself from judging Mumia’s case.

The precedential U.S. Supreme Court case, Williams v. Pennsylvania, turned on D.A. Castille’s personal involvement in authorizing death sentences in murder cases. Castille was notoriously pro-death penalty. He bragged he was responsible for 45 death sentences in Philadelphia; Mumia was one of them. Castille was financed by, and given the “Man of the Year” award, by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

Even with the stalling and attempted cover-up, the D.A. provided “discovery” that includes the needed evidence of Castille’s personal involvement in seeking Mumia’s case—trying to get him executed as soon as possible.

While Castille was District Attorney he fought to make sure capital cases were upheld and that execution warrants were signed by then governor Robert Casey, who was opposed to capital punishment. In the records released by the D.A.’s office during this legal action is the June 15, 1990 letter from DA Castille to governor Casey. Castille’s letter urged the governor to issue death warrants in Philadelphia capital cases where the appeals process was completed. D.A. Castille’s letter states: “I urge you to send a clear and dramatic message to all police killers that the death penalty actually means something.”

There were two “police killers” on Pennsylvania’s death row at the time of this letter, Leslie Beasley and Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Krasner’s “finding” that this is not evidence of Castille’s bias is fundamentally the same as Justice Castille refusing to consider Mumia’s appeal that Judge Albert Sabo was biased, as shown in his promise, “I’m going to help them fry the n----r.”

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and police officer Faulkner’s widow, Maureen Faulkner, were worried prior to the April 30 court date that Krasner wouldn’t rule against Mumia. They shouldn’t have been. Krasner telegraphed his position as soon as he was elected, with the appointment of Ronald Castile to his Advisory Board. Maureen Faulkner met with Krasner’s office. Needless to say, Krasner had refused any meeting with Mumia’s supporters on the grounds it was “an ongoing matter.”

Krasner did as should have been anticipated. He was elected to be Philadelphia’s District Attorney, and that requires enforcement of an inherently racially and class biased prosecutorial system. The American legal system is imbued with the legacy of slavery—from top to bottom. Krasner may or may not make changes that do not fundamentally threaten this system, and are supported by the Democratic Party. But the deal, whether implicit or explicit, is that Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction will remain in place. Mumia’s conviction reflects the injustices inflicted on all those who go through the U.S. legal system. At the same time, to both parties of American capital, Mumia is the face of Black revolt, because of his unbending opposition to the domestic and international policies of U.S. imperialism expressed in his political commentaries and books.

Mumia’s freedom will not be won without an intransigent struggle based on his innocence and that he was framed to protect and cover-up for the corrupt workings of the Philadelphia police and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Judge Tucker ordered Mumia’s lawyers to submit on July 9 an amended petition, re-arguing why Mumia’s should be dismissed based on the evidence disclosed by the prosecution. On August 9, 2018 the prosecution will file its response. On August 30, 2018 there will be oral argument and Judge Tucker will likely end the court session announcing he will rule on Mumia’s petition to have all his appeals vacated at a later date in a written decision.

All out on August 30 for international protests to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

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