Mumia Abu-Jamal Update October 2018
Last week, attorneys for Mumia Abu Jamal argued in court that conflicts of interest led to unfair rulings against him in his longstanding case.
As many know, Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. The case was riddled with constitutional violations, and his sentence was later commuted to life in prison without parole.
Recently, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Williams v. Pennsylvania, Mumia’s attorneys argued that his rights were violated after former district attorney Ron Castille failed to recuse himself in an appeals decision. At the time Castille was a state Supreme Court judge.
Judge Leon Tucker had asked the Philadelphia district attorneys office to produce an internal memo that might show Castille” back when he was city district attorney ” had direct involvement in pursuing Abu-Jamals death sentence. If he did, his later denial as Supreme Court justice of Abu-Jamals appeal, could be deemed biased.
Defense attorney Judy Ritter said: Justice Castille has shown himself to be involved in this case, to be biased against a certain class of cases that our client falls into.
The Commonwealth argued that as district attorney, Castille was simply doing his job.
“It’s nothing remarkable that a DA would send a letter to the governor asking him to sign death warrants which the governor was required to do,” said attorney Tracey Kavanaugh.
Emotions ran high, both inside and outside of the courtroom.
Maureen Faulkner, the widow of Daniel Faulkner, stood up and cried in the middle of court proceedings when the judge announced that both sides would need to wait until December for any possible closure in the case.
Presiding Judge Leon Tuckerhas indicated that he will make a ruling in the case some time after December 3, 2018.
Guest – Professor Johanna Fernandez of Baruch College. She is with the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home.
In Response to Pittsburgh, We Must Come Together as One
Last week, acts of hatred claimed the lives of 13 innocent persons in the United States. A white supremacist killed two African American persons in Kentucky. An anti-semite killed 11 Jewish persons in a synagogue in Pittsburgh where even more were wounded, including first responders and police officers.
Not surprisingly, the slaughter of the 11 Jews brought forth calls of the need for a strong Israel; the same response that followed anti-Semitic killings in France and Brussels.
It also inflamed political and theological differences between Israelis and American Jews. Israels Ashkenazi chief rabbi avoided saying synagogue because it is not Orthodox, but Conservative, a liberal branch of Judaism ” because it is not Orthodox, but Conservative, one of the liberal branches of Judaism rejected by religious authorities who define the state’s Jewishness.
The attackers anti-refugee, anti-Muslim rants prompted some on the Israeli left ” like many American Jewish liberals ” compare the views of nationalistic leaders who influence their governments.
In Israel, longstanding animosity between left and right has escalated. Orthodox parties are hoping to increase their influence and Jewish law on day to day life; disputes about who cdan serve in the military and what stores can open on the Sabbath are rampant.
Guest – Phyllis Bennis, a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, where she works on anti-war, US foreign policy and Palestinian rights issues. Her books including Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Todays UN, and Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.
VICTORY: How Pennsylvania Beat Gerrymandering and How Other States Can Do the Same
An important victory against gerrymandering was recently won in the State of Pennsylvania in the case of league of women voters versus the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The first paragraph of the complaint lays it out. This case is about one of the greatest threats to American democracy today: partisan gerrymandering. A partisan gerrymandering occurs when the political party in control of redistricting redraws congressional or state legislative districts to entrench that party in power and prevent voters affiliated with the minority party from electing candidates of their choice. The result is that general election outcomes are rigged ” they are predetermined by partisan actors sitting behind a computer, and not by the voters.
In Pennsylvania although the Democrats have more supporters than the Republicans Republicans had 13 seats in the US Congress and the Democrats had only five.
The U. S. Supreme Court has not been willing to rule on gerrymandering taking the position that there is no clear way to determine if there has been gerrymandering and therefore it is a non-judicable issue.
To get around this in 2018 Pennsylvania activists engineered a brilliant legal effort in the the state courts of Pennsylvania to attack the lopsided redistricting, and won after fighting pitched battles all the way up to the state Supreme Court. Now activists around the country can do the same. The next congressional redistricting occurs after the 2020 census: progressive need to be ready well before then.
We speak today with constitutional litigator James R. Lieber who has provided a real time report on effective trial lawyers, working to facilitate the will of the people. He explains the strategies of counsel and the evidence presented and has provided a roadmap to social justice litigants for pursuing constitutionally protected claims in state court based on the state constitution and avoiding federal review.
Attorney James B. Lieber is the author of 3 previous books, and a lawyer who focuses on constitutional, civil rights, and discrimination cases. He has won two cases before the U. S. Supreme Court and is widely published in magazines of national stature.