Report: Court hearing on Mumia


Three judges of the 3rd Federal Circuit Court of the United States sat on the 9th November 2010 again on Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case. It was about the controversial law since 2001, the death penalty against Mumia. A decision is expected in the coming weeks.

This paper is issued a recording of German translations of court hearing.

The three judges – appointed by Ronald Reagan Anthony Sirica, who was appointed by George Bush Senior Robert Cowen and Bill Clinton appointed Thomas Ambro – had confirmed two years ago to the decision of a judge in an immediately subordinate court after the jury panel in Abu -Jamal’s method of 1982 for the assessment of the penalty only a highly inaccurate and confusing form, and the judge’s erroneous instructions were available. 

The Court considers that these confusing instructions had misled the jury to believe, wrongly, to take account of a speaking against a death sentence would have a mitigating circumstance all 12 jurors to agree on this fact. In fact, however, have only aggravating, are found where unanimity for a death sentence speaking circumstances of all members of the jury to be valid.

The verdict of 2008 was seen by many as a major victory for Abu-Jamal and his Verteidigunsteam because it meant that he is either not executed, and serve instead a life sentence without possibility of early release would, or that the district attorney of Philadelphia, a new procedure the penalty should apply, in which a new jury would listen to arguments for or against the imposition of a new death sentence.

In January 2010, said the Supreme Court of the United States – the U.S. Supreme Court – the case with its decision to murder Frank Spisak in Ohio yet another twist added. Spisak is a neo-Nazi who was convicted for the murder of randomly selected Jews and African Americans to death and had worn at his trial and a Hitler mustache. The Supreme Court held that the revocation of his death sentence by a lower court was mistaken. Spisak in case it was just as in the Abu-Jamal to the potentially misleading wording on the jury form and the instructions of the judge went to the jury.

The U.S. Supreme Court who was asked to decide on the date of Spisak’s decision also has the appeal of the prosecution of Philadelphia against the decision by the Third Circuit Court in Abu-Jamal’s case in March 2008, sent the latter case, back then the Court of Appeal and dismissed the judge Sirica at Cowen and Ambro to review its decision in the case of Abu-Jamal in the light of the Supreme Court decision in the case Spisak again.

The prisoner was allowed themselves and as in previous hearings not attend in person. While it was once again for his life, but not even this provides for the procedure code that the prisoner is allowed to leave the death row in the high security prison. Thus, let Mumia represented by his attorney Judith Knight.

It started with Attorney Hugh Burns to convince the court which tried them, that there would have been in the U.S. Supreme Court case Spisak given no instructions to the jury, which would be different from Mumia’s case.

During the first 20 minutes of the hearing while he was regularly interrupted by the three judges. She disagreed with some violent. In the attached audio file here are several examples of this dialogue (including a German translation) included.

Visibly irritated, the prosecutor repeatedly attempted to substantiate his argument that he could hardly.

First, it opened the court observers the impression that the court with the argument of the prosecutor disagreed. However, such impressions are often misleading. The court is aware that they are under heavy public scrutiny. Obvious bias as in previous legal levels, as Mumia tried in the State of Pennsylvania to enforce his rights, it will not be at the federal level. Here the appearance of objectivity is better protected, without therefore necessarily mean justice would be established. Instead of talking about Mumia’s guilt never proven, then the judiciary is currently on constitutional details to deny him the freedom and threaten him to continue with the execution can.

Mumia was then defending Judith Knight’s turn. She stepped immediately into the matter and laid there, why the U.S. Supreme Court case, given Spisak and Mills on the Mumia relies, are fundamentally different when it comes to jury instructions. The crucial point here is that in Mumia’s case demanded unanimity of the debt-reducing factors.

Again, this conversation between a defender and the court is to hear the accompanying audio file with German translation.

Defender Judith Ritter was also regularly interrupted by the three judges, but was never at a loss for an explanation and could face a judge any matter objectively. As previously mentioned, it would be wrong to take from this interpretation of a decision of the judges.

While it was not easy to identify the position of Presiding Judge Sirica seemed, at least the judges Cowen and Ambro of the arguments by Prosecutor Burns not seem convinced: “You have not refuted Ms Knight’s arguments,” said Cowen. “She pointed out some differences between the forms (by Abu-Jamal and Spisak), which are important.”

And Judge Ambro added, “This came as the word unanimously” in the case Spisak not apply. “And Judge Cowen added:” In our case, the word “unanimously” used again and again, and in close proximity to the points where it comes to mitigating circumstances. ”

The strong protests in front of the door accompanied hearing was accompanied in court by many supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal. An observer from Germany estimated the number inside and outside on 700th overall

Suzanne Ross, a member of the New York Free Mumia coalition, warned after the hearing strongly to rely on the fairness of this Court. Finally, this Court had in 2008 made it clear that it would not be trusted, the obvious manipulations of Mumia’s conviction to touch 1982nd This court refused and after him the Supreme Court for a new trial. Suzanne Ross stressed the importance of transnational protests, the judiciary as a whole to make it clear that they can not operate unattended and Mumia’s release is the only option to solve this already 29 years of legal scandal.

For December are already in various cities of the United States, Mexico, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Brazil, Canada, France, Great Britain and the Federal Republic announced demonstrations for the release of Mumia.


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