From: "Political Prisoner News"
Date: Thu, October 28, 2010
WHY THE NOVEMBER 9, 2010 HEARING ON MUMIA IS SO CRITICAL
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition
The only legal options to be considered at the Third Circuit's
November 9 hearing are whether Mumia Abu-Jamal is to be executed or
get life in prison without parole. Clearly neither of those two
options is acceptable.
To fully grasp the significance of the hearing, one needs to revisit
Federal District Court Judge William Yohn, Jr.'s decision of December
18, 2001. In that ruling the judge upheld Mumia's conviction but at
the same time threw out his death sentence on the grounds that the
verdict form used by the jury for sentencing at his trial violated
the U.S. Supreme Court's Mills precedent and therefore entitled Mumia
to have his death sentence overturned. Yohn then gave the state 180
days to convene a new jury trial only on the issue of Mumia's
penalty, in which the choices would be either death or life in prison
without parole. On the other hand, if the state did nothing, Yohn
ruled that Mumia would automatically be sentenced to life in prison
At the time Judge Yohn stayed his ruling on the death sentence while
the state appealed his decision to the next higher level of federal
court, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. (At the same time Mumia
cross-appealed Judge Yohn's decision upholding Mumia's conviction.)
Mumia was therefore never removed from Death row and remains there to
On March 27, 2008, the Third Circuit upheld Yohn's decision on the
death penalty on a 3-0 vote. Again the decision was stayed while the
state appealed to the highest federal level, the Supreme Court. (In
the same decision, the Third Circuit rejected Mumia's appeal on the
conviction by 2-1 and, as before, Mumia cross-appealed that ruling.)
On January 10, 2010, the Supreme Court ordered the Third Circuit to
reconsider its decision on the death sentence in light of its
simultaneously-issued ruling unanimously rejecting an appeal from a
white-supremacist named Spisak. That man admitted to killing at least
two people in Ohio and openly wished to have murdered more. He had
appealed his death sentence also as a violation of Mills, but
involving a different aspect of it than Mumia's case. The Sixth
Circuit, as did the Third Circuit in Mumia's case, ruled that the
death sentence should be vacated, but the Supreme Court ruled that
the Mills precedent did not apply in Spisak's case, and that
therefore execution rather than life in prison was the appropriate
penalty. Based on that decision, the Supreme Court immediately
applied the same argument to Mumia's case and asked for the Third
Circuit to reconsider the issue of execution for Mumia as well.
Thus, the hearing on November 9th is on Mumia's penalty only. The
choices before the court are either to sustain Yohn's and its own
earlier decisions or to reinstate the death penalty, clearing the way
for Mumia's possible quick execution.
If the Third Circuit reaffirms its earlier decision to sentence Mumia
to life in prison without parole, the state will most likely appeal
to the Supreme Court. (This is exactly what happened with Spisak,
after the Sixth Circuit upheld its own earlier ruling which had
overturned the man's death sentence.) But in the unlikely event that
the state doesn't appeal, it will then have 180 days to implement
Judge Yohn's decision.
Of course if the Third Circuit rules against Mumia, he will appeal to
the Supreme Court. However, the odds for relief are small, given the
increasingly reactionary nature of that court.
Thus, Mumia's legal situation is extremely dangerous. His life truly
is on the line, for no matter how the court rules, the only two
choices under this legal system are either execution or life in
prison without parole and, for the moment, the prosecution, with all
its allies and backers, is fighting very hard for execution.
THAT'S WHY WE ARE CALLING FOR ALL THOSE WHO POSSIBLY CAN TO COME OUT
TO PHILADELPHIA WITH US ON THE 9TH. WE MUST STAY THE HANDS OF THE
EXECUTIONERS AND PRY OPEN THE PRISON GATES FOR MUMIA'S RELEASE.
ABOLISH THE RACIST DEATH PENALTY!
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!
To make reservations for bus tickets to Philadelphia on November 9th,
call 212 330-8029.
Friday, October 29, 2010
From: "Political Prisoner News"