Dec. 16 ― Supporters packed the courtroom at Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Post-Conviction Relief Act hearing today before Common Pleas Court Judge Lucretia Clemons. Outside, more supporters demonstrated in the rain.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a world-renowned political prisoner and past president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists who was framed when Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner was killed in 1981. Originally sentenced to death, the former Black Panther Party member has been jailed for 41 years. That’s over 13 years longer than the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela.
Defense attorneys pointed out new information about the credibility of prosecution witnesses and bias in jury selection.
One of Abu-Jamal’s lawyers, Judith Ritter, raised that prosecution witness Robert Chobert demanded money for his testimony. Another state witness, Cynthia White, sought to have several prostitution charges dropped in exchange for her testimony. Prosecutor Joseph McGill also sought to limit the number of Black jurors.
Evidence of these claims by Mumia Abu-Jamal’s lawyers was “suddenly found” in six boxes of material that were stored in District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office.
Assistant District Attorney Grady Gervino sought to dismiss these defense claims. His arguments, particularly regarding the bias in jury selection, were flimsy. Former assistant Philadelphia D.A. Jack McMahon actually made a 1986 training video teaching younger prosecutors to avoid selecting Black jurors.
“In selecting Blacks—you don’t want the real educated ones,” McMahon said. “Again, this goes across the board of all races. You don’t want smart people.”
Although this video was made several years after Jamal was convicted, it shows the bigoted atmosphere in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.
There are dozens of boxes of material that were withheld from Abu-Jamal’s lawyers that have to be searched. All of these facts demand a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal or throwing out his conviction.
Judge Clemons said she would make a ruling in 60 to 90 days. Supporters of justice need to spread the truth: Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent.
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