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7/20/06 Legal Update from Robert R. Bryan, Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
Dear Friends: On July 20, 2006 we filed the Brief of Appellee and Cross Appellant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia. (Abu-Jamal v. Horn, U.S. Ct. of Appeals Nos. 01-9014, 02-9001.) It is attached. This brief is of great significance concerning my client's right to a fair trial, due process of law, not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and equal protection of the law, guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The issues the court is hearing are:
Claim 14 Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied the right to due process of law and a fair trial because of the prosecutor's 'appeal-after-appeal' argument which encouraged the jury to disregard the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt, and err on the side of guilt.
Claim 16 Whether the prosecution's exclusion of African Americans from sitting on the jury violated Mr. Abu-Jamal's rights to due process and equal protection of the law, and contravened Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).
Claim 25 Whether the verdict form and jury instructions that resulted in the death penalty deprived Mr. Abu-Jamal of the right to due process of law, equal protection of the law, and not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and violated Mills v. Maryland, 486 U.S. 367 (1988), since the judge precluded the jurors from considering any mitigating evidence unless they all agreed on the existence of a particular circumstance.
Claim 29 Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied due process and equal protection of the law during post-conviction hearings as the result of the bias and racism of Judge Albert F. Sabo which included the comment that he was "going to help'em fry the n-gger." [spelling changed to avoid email profanity filters]
The National Lawyers Guild, and, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., will be filing separate amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs in the near future. This should strengthen our quest to see justice done.
It is a is a remarkable accomplishment that the court is hearing issues that go to the very essence of Mr. Abu-Jamal's right to a fair trial. This is the first time that any court has made a ruling that could lead to a new trial and freedom. Nevertheless, he remains on Pennsylvania's death row and in great danger.
Mr. Abu-Jamal, the "voice of the voiceless," is a powerful symbol in the international campaign against the death penalty and for human rights. The goal of Professor Judith L. Ritter, associate counsel, and I is to see that the many wrongs which have occurred in this case are righted and that this brave man is freed.
Your support and concern is appreciated.
With best wishes,
Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal