Incarceration Nation

New Evidence of Innocence for Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Mobilization4Mumia

The struggle to free unfairly-convicted Mumia Abu-Jamal took a significant step forward on September 3, 2019, when his attorneys submitted two documents to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Judith L. Ritter, Widener University-Delaware Law School, and Samuel Spital, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., released this statement:

“This week, Mumia Abu-Jamal filed a brief in Pennsylvania Superior Court to support his claim that his 1982 trial was fundamentally unfair in violation of the Constitution. For example, he argues that the prosecution failed to disclose evidence as required and discriminated against African Americans when selecting the jury. And, his lawyer did not adequately challenge the State’s witnesses. 

“Mr. Abu-Jamal also filed a motion containing new evidence of constitutional violations, such as promises by the prosecutor to pay or give leniency to two witnesses. There is also new evidence of racial discrimination in jury selection.”

Abu-Jamal has always said he is innocent and the new documents go a long way in supporting his case, undermining police and prosecution claims of how Philadelphia police officer Danny Faulkner was killed.

The filings are in response to the December 27, 2018, decision by Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker reinstating Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petitions for the defendant. Tucker ruled Justice Ronald Castille unconstitutionally participated in deciding the appeals in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after denying Mr. Abu-Jamal’s motions asking for his recusal, creating an appearance of judicial bias.

The “Brief for Appellant” in support of his struggle to gain his freedom after 37 years in Pennsylvania prisons re-opens the PCRA petitions as ordered by Tucker. 

The “Appellant’s Motion for Remand to the Court of Common Pleas to Consider Newly Discovered Evidence” asks the Superior Court that the case be sent back to the Court of Common Pleas “so that he may present newly discovered evidence.”

Among the arguments resubmitted in the “Brief for Appellant:”

  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Failure to make right argument because counsel did not know the law;
  • Brady Violation—DA withheld evidence, namely that prosecutor said that he would look into reinstating the driver’s license of key witness, Robert Chobert;
  • Rights Violation of Fifth, Sixth and 14th Amendments—DA manipulated key witness to falsely identify Abu-Jamal as the shooter;
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Failure to retain ballistics expert when the trial counsel knew Officer Faulkner was killed by a .44 caliber bullet even though it was known Abu-Jamal’s firearm was not a .44 weapon.
  • Batson—Discrimination in jury selection that kept Black jurors from being sworn in.
  • Juror Misconduct—Several jurors violated court rules by conducting premature discussions, creating potential for prejudgment of evidence.

Basym Hassan, Philadelphia political activist, said:

“The district attorney clearly violated Mumia’s constitutional rights by withholding clear evidence that should have been exposed from the beginning. Throughout the entire process of Mumia’s approaching the scene up until today’s current developments, the law has not been applied as it was created—to get to the truth of a matter. Hopefully, Mumia will get a re-trial and the truth will finally get told. We await his release from hell.”

Cindy Miller, Food Not Bombs—Solidarity and Mobilization for Mumia, reminds us:

“Does everybody remember on December 28, 2018, when current Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and his staff happened to find six boxes of evidence that had not beforehand been shown? That evidence is partly the reason for this new motion.”

The “Appellant’s Motion for Remand to the Court of Common Pleas to Consider Newly Discovered Evidence” Miller refers to includes the suppression of evidence of improper prosecutorial interactions with the state’s main two witnesses who were instrumental in ensuring Abu-Jamal’s conviction. The motion charges that:

“Abu-Jamal’s capital trial was fundamentally unfair and tainted by serious constitutional violations. Mr. Abu-Jamal respectfully requests that this Court remand the case to the Court of Common Pleas so that Mr. Abu-Jamal may litigate the claims arising from this new evidence.”

Pam Africa:

“Here’s another example of why Mumia shoulda been home—an example of police and prosecutorial misconduct. That evidence has been there for years. It shoulda been in trial records but it was hidden. What else is hidden besides the few things that we have right here?”

MOVE 9 member Eddie Africa said:

“If they deal with this issue honestly, they’ll have to release him because they know what they did was wrong.”

Mumia, 65 years old, remains in SCI Mahanoy in poor health, suffering from severe itching and cirrhosis of the liver. He recently had cataract surgery in his left eye and is awaiting surgery in his right eye. He also has glaucoma.

Janine Africa, from the MOVE 9, said:

“I just got released from prison after 41 years in May. I want to say everyone work hard to bring Mumia home so he can be taken care of and get proper medical care, and he don’t deserve to be in jail from the beginning.”

Mike Africa Jr. added:

“The pressure of the people, and of the power of the people, is squeezing the evidence of Mumia’s innocence out. We shall win.”

San Francisco Bay View, September 11, 2019