Judge Overturns Death Sentence For Mumia

The First Admission Of The Many Flaws In This Case

By: Lucy Herschel

On December 18, Federal Judge William Yohn threw out the death sentence of Pennsylvania political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.

At the same time, Yohn upheld Mumia’s bogus conviction for the 1981 shooting of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner -- despite all the evidence of inadequate counsel, incomplete and misleading forensic evidence, witness tampering by police, and a racially biased jury selection and trial.

The order for a resentencing is a blow to all those forces that want to see Mumia killed. Over the years, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), as well as a host of politicians and media hacks, have insisted that Mumia had a fair trial and should have been executed years ago. The FOP has called protests and boycotts against everyone and anyone who suggests otherwise -- from rock star Sting to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream founders.

That Yohn was forced to throw out Mumia’s death sentence is the first official acknowledgment of the many flaws in his trial -- and testimony to the tireless efforts of Mumia and his supporters to speak the truth.

At the same time, this appeal was Mumia’s best chance to have a court review 20 years worth of evidence proving his innocence -- and to evaluate the record of a trial that, in the words of Amnesty International, was "a travesty of justice." But, Judge Yohn rubberstamped the state court’s rulings and let this injustice stand.

The fight for Mumia has entered a new phase, and activity to support him goes on. Among the recent Campaign events in support of Mumia, in Austin, Texas, 50 people rallied at the state capitol December 10 in a spirited multiracial demonstration. In Washington, D.C., 50 came out for a forum called "The Death Penalty Is Dead Wrong: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal" -- where exonerated California death row prisoner Shujaa Graham and others talked about the importance of this case. New York Campaign chapters in Harlem and at Columbia University held screenings of the documentary A Case for Reasonable Doubt. And on December 8, Campaigners from New York, the D.C. area, and Chicago demonstrated at a rally in Philadelphia that drew 600 people to demand justice for Mumia.

Now, activists are organizing a weekend of action for Mumia on April 4-6, culminating in a march and forum in Philadelphia on April 6. For more information, contact your local Campaign chapter or go to www.mumia.org on the Web.

We must ensure that Mumia’s death sentence isn’t reimposed on appeal -- and continue the fight to expose the injustice of his entire case.