PRESS RELEASE Oct. 25, 2022
Contact: Sophia Williams 917-806-0521; Gabe Bryant 215-687-3754; Joe Piette 610-931-2615
PIVOTAL HEARING FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMAL OCT. 26
Join justice seekers for Mumia Abu-Jamal at a Court of Common Pleas hearing in the Criminal Justice Center, Filbert and 13th St. Philadelphia at 9 am on Wednesday, October 26. Supporters from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and points South will be in court and on the streets as they learn whether Judge Lucretia Clemons will choose love or fear in the highly politicized case.
A Black Panther Party veteran, community activist and revolutionary journalist, Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed for the murder of a Philadelphia cop. As a result of police, prosecutorial and judicial misconduct in a highly contested trial, Abu-Jamal was given the racist death sentence in July 1982. Since 1981, he has been incarcerated under inhumane and illegal imprisonment — including 29 years in solitary confinement on Pennsylvania’s death row. But the court hearing will consider none of these points as Abu-Jamal sits behind bars. Judge Clemons will only consider three narrow arguments.
After the Oct. 26, 2021 denial of the last of Abu-Jamal’s five previous PCRA (Post Conviction Relief Act) petitions, Abu-Jamal’s defense team filed a 6th PCRA petition on Dec. 23, 2021 that pertains to the newest evidence from six hitherto unknown boxes of files on the case first disclosed to the defense in January 2019.
Based on the new evidence, Abu-Jamal’s defense again asks for a new trial with the following three
1) New evidence shows that the prosecution’s most important witness, Robert Chobert, expected to receive money from the Commonwealth in exchange for his testimony. This had not been disclosed to the defense.
2) Additional evidence in memoranda and letters contained in the boxes reveal the District Attorney’s Office made significant efforts to monitor and direct outstanding prostitution charges against witness Cynthia White with the goal of making life easier for her in exchange for her false testimony against Abu-Jamal.
3) Further, handwritten notes by Prosecutor Mr. McGill show that he was actively tracking prospective jurors by race during jury selection, prominently placing the letter ‘B’ next to the names of many prospective Black jurors. The explicit focus on the race of possible jurors in the prosecutor’s notes is evidence that the prosecutor relied, at least in part, on race in deciding which jurors to strike, in violation of federal law.
Abu-Jamal is represented by Judith Ritter, Bret Grote (Abolitionist Law Center) and Sam Spital, the latter for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The state is represented by Tracey Kavanagh for Larry Krasner’s District Attorney’s Office. On Oct 26, the Judge will decide whether to order a hearing on the case or dismiss the PCRA petition.
Abu-Jamal’s health is precarious. He is 68 years old. He had double bypass surgery in March 2020, renal failure in 2017, and has been refused necessary cardiac rehabilitation. He also suffers from the after-effects of COVID and Hepatitis C. As an ill and elderly man, and because he has been unjustly incarcerated, Mumia Abu-Jamal should be released immediately.