By ‘little Red


Monday April 24th saw Mumia Abu Jamal approach his 63rd birthday in a most unusual way: His lawyers were in court seeking to take advantage of the first legal opening in his case since the beginning of his torturous odyssey in the courts since that fateful night of December 9th, 1981 when he walked into a bullet and the killing of a Philadelphia police officer!

The case of Terry Williams v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which got to the Supreme Court where it was ruled that the judge who was actively involved in a prosecution should not be involved in the hearing of any appeals of that same case, set it all off. In Williams’ case, the judge that did that was Ronald Castille. The Court ruled that that man was entitled to have his case reheard in light of history and bias of Castille.

This is a legal rhythm change, although Mumia supporters have heard this before. Ronald Castille, who was elected DA in 1988, was active in the state’s opposition of the first round of Mumia’s appeals back in 1989. When those appeals went up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Castille would not recuse himself from those proceedings and was just as actively involved in shooting down those Post Conviction Relief appeals, not to mention his bragging about securing 45 death sentences. Among those 45 included Mumia’s death sentence.

Mumia’s lawyers have challenged Castille’s role before on the obvious legal principle of a biased participatory past.

For some reason, the courts acknowledged the principle of this bias was enough to grant Williams relief, where they did not do so for Mumia before. Now, Mumia’s lawyers, coming on the heels of an epic two year battle to secure his medical treatment for his dangerous dance with Hepatitis C that was surely killing him and left him with Cirrhosis of the liver, come now to seize the time fully armed with a fresh case, a clear precedent, to do for Mumia what they did for Terry Williams!

It remains to be scene if the Court will rule in Mumia’s favor. Even if they do, that will not automatically grant Mumia his freedom. What it can mean is that all of Mumia’s previous appeals which were wrongly turned down, especially in light of the surfacing of repressed exculpable evidence, can now be reconsidered. It would be through such reconsiderations that this incredible human being may actually see the daylight that may translate into freedom.

As this goes to press, Mumia’s lawyers Judith Ritter and Christina Swarms gave the court a strong presentation of the law, of the facts and of the principle they should follow.

If that wasn’t enough, hundreds of Mumia’s supporters rallied outside the courtroom to give that court more reason to do the right thing.

“Bring by brick, wall by wall, we gonna free Mumia Abu Jamal,” they roared from outside the courtroom to downtown Philadelphia tying up throngs of traffic as they marched after the proceedings finished,captivating the public with a freshness, an edge and an air of hope not seen in some time in the many years of protest for the much beloved people’s journalist.

Zayid Muhammad, who has been with Mumia’s case for 27 years, was asked about that rally at the court and why it was important.

“After some 36 years, this is the first time that one of Mumia’s appeals is actually being heard in the proper sense of the word,” he said.

“And it is important for these judges to know that we are going to see it that whatever they do, the  whole world will be watching.”

If the new legal action wins, Mumia’s conviction is “wide open for legal challenge,” says Rachel Wolkenstein, another lawyer for Mumia.

To Muhammad’s point and to the point of those protesters in the streets with him, she went further.

“To succeed in the courts requires mass international publicity and protest,” she said emphatically.



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