Above photo: Joe Piette/Workers World.
NOTE: For more information about Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case, listen to this recent Clearing the FOG interview with Noelle Hanrahan.
It has been 43 years.
When is Mumia Abu-Jamal going to receive a new trial?
Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Lucretia Clemons has the opportunity to overturn Mumia’s conviction and grant a new trial. The time to do that is right now. The shocking new evidence that suggests bribery, perjury, and packing the jury with white jurors should be heard in open court. Evidence of constitutional violations in jury selection (a Batson claim) and suppression of evidence favorable to the accused (a Brady claim) was buried in the prosecutors files for four decades. It is now before this court.
New Evidence found in Storage Closet No. 17 (in the basement of the DA’s office) in 2021
- Alleged “eye witness” Robert Chobert’s handwritten note to Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Joseph McGill after the trial demanding “where is the money that is owe to me”.
- Detailed memos tracking of “eyewitness” Cynthia White’s cases and notices for Joseph McGill (ADA) to be consulted when they are called.
- Handwritten voir dire notes from Joseph McGill (ADA) detailing the impermissible strike pattern targeting eligible black jurors over white jurors.
More of the Same, Yet Equally Shocking: Feb. 23, 2023 Exhibits Include:
Mumia’s lawyers examined the District Attorney’s files and found additional new evidence in early 2023. They submitted this to the court in a supplemental petition filed on Wednesday February 22, 2023. This filing is strategic. It is a roadmap for Judge Clemons to examine and expose the constitutional violations endemic in this case.
This is what we learned in the February filing:
- The District Attorney’s office had in its “Mumia file” a preliminary hearing transcript for Cynthia White from 1987. Cynthia White (a purported eye witness to the killing of Officer Danny Faulkner) was charged with grand theft auto, and felony assault with a deadly weapon. Though found in the stolen car with the keys, she was not taken into custody. The victim told the court that the cops did not arrest her or take away the knife she threatened him with. This transcript clearly indicates that she was “working” as a prostitute with police protection six years after she testified against Abu-Jamal. It is all there in black and white. In addition, a Philadelphia Police Department homicide detective Douglas Culbreth, asked the court to release her on own recognizance- because she was a witness in a high profile case. She had 17 previous failures to appear and the court speculated hundreds of arrests. The detective tried to have the conversation off the record, but the judge told him – “if you have something to say in my courtroom you will say it in open court.”
- A handwritten description of the location on a hard drive of nearly all, i.e. the complete voir dire notes from ADA Joseph McGill. This note states the material was retained and scanned, yet these notes were never been produced. The District Attorney’s office says that their IT department has not yet been able to find the files on any retained computer hard drive.
- Losing, failing to turn over, and not having custody and control of Philadelphia Police Department files, of key Brady and Batson exculpatory evidence by this current DA’s office or the past DA’s should never be rewarded. Statements made to the court over the decades by the DA can and should be challenged i.e. “all of the relevant Brady evidence was turned over” – this was simply not true. It was not true in 1982 and it has not been true, until Larry Krasner took office. Constitutional violations and suppression of evidence has occurred in this case repeatedly over the last 40 years. Mumia’s attorneys have never “waived” their right to this information. They have consistently and aggressively demanded full disclosure of documents and evidence that is favorable to the defendant that remained in the possession of the DA. This 2-22-23 supplemental submission includes and documents the impressive 1995 PCRA briefing by Abu-Jamal’s legal team lead by Leonard Weinglass and local counsel David Rudovsky.
The question is: Will Judge Clemons bury the blatant evidence of prosecutorial misconduct by, stretching beyond any credibility, the byzantine PCRA hurdles in the law?
What happens now:
Presiding Criminal Division Judge Lucretia Clemons of the Philadelphia Common Pleas court said from the bench on Dec. 16, 2022 that she would rule in 60 – 90 days on Mumia’s current PCRA claims for a new trial. The DA could file a response which would delay her ruling, or she could grant herself more time. Her pending order is a dismissal notice. She could a) make final the 907 dismissal notice b) grant a new evidentiary hearing c) order a new trial.
Whatever decision she makes, it will be appealed by one side or the other to the Superior Court.
When and if a new trial is ordered there will likely be additional litigation by third parties such as Maureen Faulkner (the officer’s widow) and the Fraternal Order of Police. They will likely try to intervene and assert standing. They will attempt to argue that Larry Krasner is biased and should be removed. It should be noted that they secured standing but lost their argument before the PA Supreme Court when their King’s Bench petition was heard. A special master was appointed and issued a report (adopted by the court) finding no bias on Krasner’s part.
Visiting Mumia at SCI Mahanoy on Saturday Feb. 25th, 2023
I visited Mumia at SCI Mahanoy, and again had to go through the German Shepherd drug dog gauntlet, the routinely false positive ion scanner, yet I made it through with my legal paperwork. I brought Joy James’ book In Pursuit of Revolutionary Love to which Mumia had contributed the afterward. Mumia savored this book, which documents the moment we are in. This is why Love Not Phear is critical.
“The abolitionist is alchemist. In the rational world of unabated loss and terror, it is only natural that the liberator would be a magical thinker and a radical doer…the spiritual and political drive of activists; their labors suggest a force of nature that calls upon the ancestral in order to design a future beyond captivity.” Joy James, In Pursuit of Revolutionary Love. 2023.
Mumia has served 43 years of a life sentence without possibility of parole (LWOP) at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institute at Mahanoy. It is time for him to come home.