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General News    H3'ed 4/26/11

3rd Circuit Appeal Ruling Favoring Abu-Jamal Smacks Down US Supreme Court

By Linn Washington, Jr.  Posted by Dave Lindorff (about the submitter)       (Page 2 of 4 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page. (View How Many People Read This)   2 comments
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Now 57, Abu-Jamal has spent nearly 29 years of his life in prison for a crime he has consistently denied committing--a crime that ample evidence conclusively proves could not have occurred as police and prosecutors have proclaimed.

Authorities, for example, claim Abu-Jamal fired four shots at the policeman, while straddling the officer as he lay defenseless on a sidewalk, striking him only once with a fatal shot in the face.

However, police crime scene photos and police reports make no reference of any bullet marks in that sidewalk around the fallen officer--marks that should have been clearly visible if Abu-Jamal fired three shots at almost point-blank range into the sidewalk as witnesses and the prosecutor claimed.

As detailed in an thorough investigative ballistic test released in September 2010 by This Can't Be Happening! (See our film at the bottom of the home page), it is impossible to fire high-velocity bullets into a sidewalk without leaving any marks. TCBH! test-fired each kind of .38-caliber bullets referenced in police reports about the 1981 crime scene into a slab of old city sidewalk, and each of those bullets left easily visible marks...marks totally contradicting claims by authorities that Abu-Jamal wildly fired into the sidewalk without leaving bullet marks.

Rulings by federal and state courts denying Abu-Jamal the legal relief routinely granted other inmates who had raised the same appeals claims are the least-examined element of this internationally-condemned injustice.

The same Philadelphia and Pennsylvania courts that found major flaws by either defense attorneys, police, prosecutors and/or trial judges in 86 Philadelphia death penalty convictions during a 28-year period after Abu-Jamal's December 1981 arrest declare no errors exist anywhere in the Abu-Jamal case ┬ľ an assertion critics call statistically improbable.

The federal Third Circuit, for example, declined to grant Abu-Jamal a new trial based on solid legal issues from racial discrimination by prosecutors in jury selection to documented errors by trial judge Albert Sabo, the late jurist who relished his infamous reputation for pro-prosecution bias.

The Third Circuit's 2008 ruling faulting Sabo for his inability to provide the jury with simple death penalty deliberation instructions included the contradictory conclusion that Sabo had adequately provided the jury with instructions about a highly complicated legal issue involving misconduct by the trial prosecutor.

Faulting Sabo for that flawed instruction on prosecutorial misconduct would have required the Third Circuit to give Abu-Jamal a whole new trial. Unwilling to do that, the court sidestepped its duty to ensure justice, by deciding to just eliminate Abu-Jamal's death sentence, instead.

Pennsylvania state courts have released three Philadelphians from death row (half of Pa's death row exonerations to date) citing misconduct by police and prosecutors...misconduct that was less egregious than that documented in the Abu-Jamal case. One of those Philadelphia exonerations involved a man framed by police for a mob-related killing, who was arrested six months before Abu-Jamal.

While many people in Philadelphia may feel Abu-Jamal is guilty as charged, millions around the world question every aspect of this conviction, citing facts that proponents of Abu-Jamal's conviction deliberately dismiss as irrelevant.

This widespread questioning of Abu-Jamal's guilt is the reason why pro-Abu-Jamal activities occurred around the world commemorating Abu-Jamal's 4/24 birthday, including people in San Francisco attending a screening of the "Justice on Trial" movie examining ignored aspects in the case, and people marching for Abu-Jamal's freedom in the Brixton section of London.

Officials in the French city of Saint-Denis will stage a ceremony rededicating a street they named for Abu-Jamal during the last weekend in April.

The ire erupting over Abu-Jamal's prominence on the part of advocates of his execution contains contradictions that are as clear as the proverbial black-&-white.

The U.S. Congress engaged in color-coded contradiction approving a May 2006 resolution condemning far off Saint-Denis for its honoring Abu-Jamal by placing his name on a small one block long street.

Over a decade before that anti-Saint-Denis outrage, over 100 members of Congress had battled to block the U.S. government from deporting a white fugitive convicted of killing a British Army officer in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper www.thiscantbehappening.net. He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)
 

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