Saturday, April 21, 2007

Appeals court won't step down from Abu-Jamal case

April 21, 2007 Associated Press

A federal appeals court said yesterday it will not step down from death-row
inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal's latest appeal, paving the way for a key hearing
next month.

Prosecutors had asked outside judges to hear the case because the husband of
3rd U.S. Circuit Judge Marjorie O. Rendell was district attorney during the
1982 trial in which Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing a police officer.
They said that created the appearance of a conflict.

Judge Rendell, who is married to Gov. Ed Rendell, and three colleagues on
the Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit instead recused themselves for reasons
not disclosed in the two-page ruling.

The removal of those four judges leaves numerous others to serve on the
three-judge panel hearing the case, the order said.

Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther and radio reporter, has been on death row
for a quarter-century for the 1981 slaying of white Philadelphia Police
Officer Daniel Faulkner.

In Abu-Jamal's appeal, he argues that city prosecutors routinely removed
qualified blacks from juries. Prosecutors deny the charge, but the 3rd
Circuit has agreed to hear Abu-Jamal's lawyers argue the point at a May 17

"I'm very happy with the ruling because had the DA's motion been granted, it
would have delayed things," Abu-Jamal's lead lawyer, Robert R. Bryan of San
Francisco, told the Associated Press. "There would have been a denial of
justice and we want this case to move forward as scheduled."

Assistant District Attorney Hugh J. Burns Jr., who had sought the 3rd
Circuit's recusal, did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages
yesterday afternoon.

Faulkner, 25, was killed after he pulled over Abu-Jamal's brother on Dec. 9,
1981. Abu-Jamal was found at the scene near the gun and later confessed,
Burns said.

His writings and taped speeches from prison have made him a cause celebre,
leaving him with a melange of vocal supporters, from black activists to
Hollywood celebrities. The French have named a street after him.

Third Circuit judges Theodore A. McKee, D. Michael Fisher and Richard L.
Nygaard were also recused from the case, the order said. *

Source : Associated Press

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