Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices challenge Mumia Abu-Jamal appeal rights

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By JEFF MACKLER

In a blatant attempt to thwart innocent political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Philadelphia Common Pleas Court-ordered appeal of his 1981 frame-up murder conviction of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, four Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices, in late February, ordered a King’s Court petition at the request of Faulkner’s wife, Maureen Faulkner. Pending the outcome of its ordered investigation of Faulkner’s charges, the court effectively took jurisdiction over Mumia’s case away from Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who has supported Mumia’s right to appeal. Alleging that Krasner exhibited “bias, conflict of interest and mishandling” of Mumia’s newly won appeal, the PA Supreme Court ordered that a “special master,” Judge John Cleland, oversee an investigation into whether there are conflicts of interest involved in Krasner’s handling of the case.

The gleeful Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) president, John McNesby, stated, “Our members stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Maureen, opposed to any and all frivolous appeals filed on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal.” McNesby added, “We are optimistic that the Court will find in our favor and remove Krasner from handling any matters related to the Mumia Abu-Jamal case.”

Faulkner’s petition spuriously charges that “Employees who formerly represented Abu-Jamal in some capacity now sit as supervisors in DA Krasner’s offices and that Krasner’s wife, Lisa Rau, used to work in the same law firm that represented Abu-Jamal.” Krasner, who contested the petition, asserted that no one who has worked on the Abu-Jamal case in the past has any involvement in his office’s decision-making.

In the almost 40 years of litigation over Mumia’s case, neither Faulkner nor the FOP has ever made such spurious accusations. No doubt, the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in the Williams case, where the court held that a prosecutor who subsequently becomes a judge adjudicating the same case has an inherent conflict of interest, enraged Abu-Jamal’s tormentors. 

Citing the Williams decision, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker had excoriated the former prosecutors in Mumia’s case for literally burying multiple boxes of evidence in an obscure and unoccupied Philadelphia office room. In consequence, Judge Tucker ordered that the key prejudicial rulings of the PA Supreme Court decades ago be revisited in the form of new appeal rights for Mumia.

If there was any evidence of corruption in Mumia’s decades of appeal efforts it has been at the hands of the old guard of the racist Philadelphia prosecutorial and political regime – former racist Mayor Frank Rizzo and frame-up prosecutors Ed Rendell, Joseph McGill, and Lynne Abraham, who ramrodded Mumia to jail in the face of massive evidence of his innocence. 

Supporting Mumia’s appeal rights, DA Krasner has stated that a new evidentiary hearing should be held in Abu-Jamal’s case because of exculpatory evidence suppressed by the earlier prosecutorial team.

In contrast, Faulkner’s now approved King’s Court petition calls for “Extraordinary Relief” – claiming that Krasner’s choice to allow Mumia’s call for a new trial to proceed is somehow corrupt. “Extraordinary Relief” is supposed to be reserved for moments when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court needs to ensure that justice is done. But the PA Supreme Court’s decision to grant the FOP/Faulkner Kings Court “rights” is all about thwarting justice.  This “intervention” reeks of a cover-up. Prior to the Krasner and Tucker interventions, every step of Mumia’s criminal conviction and appeal process has been saturated with racist corruption.

Today, Mumia’s new prosecutors, aided by the PA Supreme Court, suggest that Krasner might be biased in favor of Mumia because he turned over newly discovered evidence that the former prosecutor buried!

Capitalism’s racist criminal injustice system recognizes no limits in pursuit of reactionary ends. As we go to press Mumia’s defenders across the country are planning new actions on Mumia’s behalf. No doubt. Mumia’s legal team is also pursuing every available option. 

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Jeff Mackler is the director of the Northern California-based Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal  

Socialist Action News

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