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"This Is No Victory"--Analysis of Third Circuit Court decision re. Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Linn Washington, Jr.  Posted by Hans Bennett (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Observations and analysis of Linn Washington Jr. on the federal Third Circuit ruling in the Mumia Abu-Jamal case issued on March 27, 2008. Washington, is a journalist and university professor in Philadelphia who has written extensively about the contentious case since Abu-Jamal’s arrest in December 1981.

 

OVERVIEW

The long awaited ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in the Mumia Abu-Jamal case released on March 27, 2008 again displays the dismaying pattern of US courts ignoring precedent to deny relief to this death row journalist whose plight generates international support.

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Precedent in American law means courts following previous court rulings when determining specific legal issues.

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Precedent is the bedrock of American law.

America law requires courts to follow precedent unless significant evidence and/or compelling rationales necessitate changing precedent.

This Third Circuit ruling changes precedent. This ruling changes precedent by applying legal procedures in a highly questionable manner to dismiss compelling evidence of injustice against Abu-Jamal.

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The Third Circuit did uphold the elimination of Abu-Jamal’s death sentence. This is no victory because the ruling upheld his conviction thus condemning Abu-Jamal to life in prison.

This ruling refused to grant Abu-Jamal a new hearing or new trial on three compelling issues: prosecutors using racism to exclude African Americans from the jury during Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial; the prosecutor making improper comments to that ’82 jury at the end of the trial; and pro-prosecution bias by the ’82 trial judge during a 1995 appeals hearing.

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