By Gregory Muhammad -Guest Columnist-
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther Party member and a MOVE supporter.
Is this the reason why “justice,” has not been administered in his case when according to his supporters there is evidence of then-District Attorney Ronald Castille’s bias and conflict of interest when later as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, he denied Mumia’s post-conviction appeal?
A new court date is scheduled for October 29 for Mumia’s lawyers to present oral arguments that his new appeal right should be granted.
According to Mumia’s former attorney, Rachel Wolkenstein: “Two weeks prior to the August 30 hearing, Mumia’s lawyers were told by the district attorney’s office that they discovered close to 200 boxes of capital case files that had not been reviewed. A half-dozen files were not found.
“Just days before the scheduled final arguments, a May 25, 1988 letter from District Attorney Castille’s office to Pennsylvania State Senator Fisher (a virulent proponent of expediting executions) naming Mumia Abu-Jamal and eight other capital defendants was turned over to the defense,” said Attorney Wolkenstein.
“Mumia’s lawyers argued that finding the background to this communication would likely support their central argument that District Attorney Ronald Castille actively and personally was developing policy to speed up executions, and that he was particularly focused on convicted ‘police killers,’ ” Atty. Wolkenstein continued. “Mumia Abu-Jamal was unquestionably the capital prisoner who was most zealously targeted for execution by the Fraternal Order of Police,” the attorney continued.
Judge Tucker agreed with Mumia’s lawyers that a search is needed to establish whether Mr. Castille was personally involved in this communication. Additional discovery was ordered with Judge Tucker asking a rhetorical question, “What else hasn’t been disclosed?”
But the judge narrowed the required search around the May 25, 1988 letter. Not brought out in court is that Mumia’s appeal of his trial conviction and death sentence were still pending in May 1988. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court didn’t issue its denial of Mumia’s first appeal until March 1989. This makes any reference to Mumia’s case as a subject of an execution warrant suspect. His death sentence was not “final” unless and until the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the decision.
Mumia’s lawyers said they would discuss discovery issues with prosecutors and might file a petition to proceed with oral arguments on October 29. Judge Tucker ordered the district attorney to respond at this same court date.
Judge Tucker was the chief administrative judge overseeing post-conviction proceedings on August 30, 2018, and previously on April 30, he opened his courtroom early to Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the Philadelphia police officer Mumia is accused of killing, and the Fraternal Order of Police, which occupied half of the small courtroom.
I feel little consideration was given to Mumia’s family including his brother Keith Cook, international supporters from France and dozens of other supporters who had lined up before 8 a.m. to get into the courtroom.
This writer is a witness to how some of the press, including The Final Call, did not get a seat inside of the courtroom. Judge Tucker rejected a suggestion from media representatives to seat press in the jury box or to open space for lawyers working with Mumia.
Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal maintain he is innocent and was framed in the 1981 shooting death of police officer Daniel Faulkner. They contend police and freelance photographs taken immediately after the shootings, photographs and forensic reports on ballistics, police radio transmissions, hospital records, the autopsy report for officer Daniel Faulkner, hospital records for Mumia, and witness statements point to his innocence.
According to Atty. Wolkenstein, the prosecution’s case is false and Mumia arrived on the scene after Mr. Faulkner was shot. She argues the real shooter fled the scene, was never charged and Mumia was shot by someone other than Mr. Faulkner. She also said the crime scene was tampered with by police officers, prosecution witness lied, no evidence points to Mumia’s registered gun as the Faulkner murder weapon, no evidence shows Mumia fired a weapon and Mumia made no confession.
Mumia’s supporters argue “the cover-up continues.”
The Nation of Islam Prison Reform Ministry for the Delaware Valley Region under the direction of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Student National Prison Reform Minister Abdullah Muhammad appeals to friends and supporters from far and wide to come to the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center, 13th and Filbert St., on October 29, 9 a.m. Pack the courtroom and fill the streets for Mumia!
Gregory Muhammad is NOI Student Regional Prison Reform Minister of Delaware Valley Region.