Mumia Abu-Jamal Sentence Unconstitutional

Mumia Abu-Jamal may be the best known prisoner on death row.  A journalist and activist, he is the author of six books and hosts weekly radio broadcasts from prison and is for many the face of the social justice movement and prisoners’ rights. 

His case took an unexpected turn last week as a federal appeals court ruled, for the second time, that his death sentence was unconstitutional.  The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia found the sentencing instructions received by the jury was confusing and unclear and did not rule on Abu-Jamal’s guilt or innocence.

Abu-Jamal’s case has snaked through the justice system since the 1980s.  In December 1981, Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner pulled over a car driven by William Cook, Abu-Jamal’s brother.  The rest of the story remains in dispute, but shots were fired.  Both Abu-Jamal and Officer Faulkner were shot.  Faulkner died from his injuries and Abu-Jamal was found guilty of his murder.

The judge who presided over Abu-Jamal’s trial was widely considered to be a racist and came under fire for conduct during Abu-Jamal’s trial.  It was Sabo’s instructions to the jury that the court found unconstitutional for two times now.

As a result of this recent decision, Abu-Jamal will likely petition the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on whether or not he received a fair trial.  Abu-Jamal could get a new, full sentencing hearing before a jury.  At that hearing, the jury would be given clear instructions on how to decide between applying a sentence of life in prison versus the death penalty.  If successful, Abu-Jamal would be removed from solitary confinement on death row.

photo courtesy of dubdem soundsystem via Flickr

86 comments

Loesje vB
Loesje Najoan4 years ago

In this case if he didn't murdered than he needs to be released.

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Jordan G.
Jordan G4 years ago

Meaningful update to this case in the past few days for anyone who is interested.

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Michael MacDonald

To me..
the worst kind of murderer
is this kind of racist bigot that can take a mans life away because of the color of his skin.

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Michael MacDonald

regardless of the verdict,
the death penalty is barbaric and should be thrown out.

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Joy Jin
Joy Jin8 years ago

I don't know the whole story, but from what this article says, it seems like Abu-Jamal should be tried again. And if he is guilty, I don't believe in the death penalty as a form of punishment.

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Elisabeth M.
lis Gunn8 years ago

While not knowing details of the case, I cannot understand how someone can still be incarcerated on death row for 20 years and have court ruling in his favour about unfair, confused instructions to the jury. State condoned murder as in the death penalty is cruel and inhumane but locking someone away for 20 years when there is some suspicion of doubt is pretty rough.
Get rid of the death penalty and perhaps justice can prevail.

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Rosie Lopez
Rosie Lopez8 years ago

thanks for sharing

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Gene W.
Gene W8 years ago

@Hartson D., because he is still guilty of murder.

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Hartson Doak
Hartson Doak8 years ago

SECOND TIME? Why is he still in jail?

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Gene W.
Gene W8 years ago

@Melody P., you have had a big drink of the kool aid. Anthony Jackson was the attorney for MAJ at the initial trial, he had tried 16 - 20 murder cases prior to MAJ, he only had 6 convicted of first degree murder and none of them received the death penalty. Now you may think that is not good representation but you absolutely don't know anything about the practice of criminal law. Mr. Jackson was probably one of the best trial attorneys in Phil. at the time.
There has not been the first recantation of trial testimony by any witness for the prosecution period. One woman for the defense later claimed that she was harassed by the police and said something to the effect that she saw two men jogging away from the scene. This was an absolute setup, in her initial interview she claimed to have seen two men "sort of jog" towards the scene, she was asked how close they got (to Officer Faulkner) she said "not too close". This woman was by her own admission at the time "high" and never claimed to have seen the murder itself.
Now you can continue to read the lies from the MAJ websites if you wish but if you want the truth, Read the transcripts.

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