Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Footnote to the preceding

Another case on this front is that of Mumia Abu-Jamal, which will come up again in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on November 9. That is when the court, under a directive from the Supreme Court, will reconsider its 2008 ruling granting him a new sentencing hearing based on a finding that the instructions to the jury were flawed.

This is happening because last year SCOTUS, which has been more concerned with "finality" in capital offense cases than with justice, upheld a death sentence in an Ohio case with similar jury issues and ordered the review in the Abu-Jamal case. That the review is happening is bad news for Abu-Jamal but a lawyer for the defense, Robert Bryan, said he was "cautiously encouraged" that the Appeals Court had scheduled oral arguments rather than ruling on the basis of written briefs, which suggests the Court may distinguish between Abu-Jamal's case and the Ohio one.

I don't know if Mumia Abu-Jamal is guilty or innocent. I do know that the prosecution's case always seemed a little flaky to me - especially as it involved not only Abu-Jamal fatally shooting policeman Daniel Faulkner, but that as the mortally-wounded Faulker fell, he drew his gun and fired up at Abu-Jamal who was bending over him, thus "explaining" the odd path of the bullet that wounded Abu-Jamal, one usually associated with the shooter being above the target.

Guilt or innocence aside, I am certain that Abu-Jamal did not get a fair trial. While it is apparently too late to do anything about that, it's not too late to save him from official murder. So I hope the Court renews its order for a new sentencing hearing.

Footnote: Actually, it may not be too late to do anything about the trial. New evidence indicates that a significant piece of the prosecution's case could be completely bogus. Oh, but wait: This doesn't prove "actual innocence," does it? It only proves a major prosecution witness was lying. Never mind. Pull the switch.

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