[by Jeff Mackler]
The U.S. Supreme Court refused on April 6 Mumia Abu-Jamal’s appeal (writ of certiorari) for a new trial based on the racist exclusion of 14 Blacks from the jury panel in his 1982 frame-up murder trial. The decision left in place Mumia’s conviction and turned a blind eye to its own ruling in the famous Batson v. Kentucky case and related decisions that nullify murder convictions where Blacks are systematically excluded from juries without cause. The court ruled without comment.
Even worse, the court left open the possibility that it might consider Pennsylvania prosecutors’ cross appeal to re-instate the death penalty without granting Mumia a new sentencing hearing. A previous ruling had voided the jury’s imposition of the death penalty on the grounds that “hanging” Judge Albert Sabo had improperly instructed the jury regarding mitigating circumstances sufficient to impose a sentence of life imprisonment without parole as opposed to execution by lethal injection. Should the court later rule in favor of the prosecution, an order for Mumia’s execution by lethal injection could be signed by the Pennsylvania’ s governor and Mumia could be executed in approximately 90 days.
Meanwhile Mumia’s attorney, Robert R. Bryan, told Socialist Action newspaper, “We have lost a battle but not the war.” Bryan plans to file another petition before the Supreme Court for a re-hearing on a critical issue related to the death penalty, thus keeping Mumia’s legal options alive, at least for the time being.
Jamal, an award-winning and innocent journalist and author, has been on Pennsylvania’ s death row for 27 years. He has won broad international support for his struggle for a new trial and freedom. Organizations ranging from Amnesty International and the European Parliament to the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Presidents of France and South Africa and civil and human rights organizations around the world have repeatedly challenged the racist and anti-democratic aspects surrounding his conviction.
Massive and repeated protests organized by groups including the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (215-476-8812) and The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (510-268-9429) have played a key role in the ongoing fight for Mumia’s freedom. They are presently planning new campaigns that require the solidarity of all.