New legal development in Mumia’s case

For Immediate Release   August 25, 2012

MUMIA FILES CHALLENGE TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT SENTENCE

Mumia filed a Post-Sentencing Motion filed by Mumia pro se August 23, 2012 challenging the imposition of a sentence of life imprisonment without parole. It was filed in the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division at approximately 4pm after Mumia edited a draft motion during my visit with him earlier. Judge Pamela Dembe clandestinely signed the sentencing order on August 13, 2012, without any notice to Mumia.

This motion was filed on an emergency basis to meet the 10-day jurisdictional time requirements for filing the legal challenge. This will be supplemented by a fuller statement of facts and a Memorandum of Law.

The first issue of this motion is to reverse and declare null and void the clandestine sentencing of Mumia to life imprisonment, which was an attempt to deprive of him of his right to challenge this sentence.  Mumia’s motion not only attacks his own sentence to “slow death row,” but makes the constitutional challenge to life imprisonment without parole, solitary confinement for death row inmates and solitary confinement in general.  Mumia is fighting with and for the entirety of “incarceration nation.”

Notably, Mumia’s motion concludes with the statement, “This motion does not waive any issues of arguable merit of innocence or any governmental misconduct in the underlying case.”

In the fight for Mumia’s freedom,  Rachel Wolkenstein    Click here to read legal brief  PDF

 August 21, 2012     Contact: Rachel Wolkenstein        (917) 689-4009

Mumia Abu-Jamal illegally sentenced to life imprisonment without parole!
FREE MUMIA NOW!

On August 13, 2012, without any notice and in violation of his constitutional rights and state law, Mumia Abu-Jamal was formally sentenced by Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe to life imprisonment without parole. The impact of this illegal sentencing is to prevent a possible challenge to the slow death of life imprisonment. All sentences, including “mandatory” sentences, require a formal proceeding allowing the person to be sentenced the right to be heard and to challenge his sentence.

Mumia confirmed to his son Jamal and to attorney Rachel Wolkenstein during a visit with him on Sunday, August 19, 2012, that he had no prior knowledge of the re-sentencing. The record of this re-sentencing is contained in the official Court of Common Pleas Docket Sheet. In attempting to find out more details, Wolkenstein searched for the court file on August 20. But there is no file containing a record of this sentencing with the Criminal Division Court of Common Pleas Clerk. The information released so far by Elaine Rattliff, Deputy Clerk of Courts is that the sentencing followed a call from the Department of Corrections and further explanation awaits a call back from Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe.

Notably Judge Dembe is same judge who refused in 2001 to consider a legal challenge to “hanging judge” Albert Sabo’s self-confessed racism and bias against Mumia during his trial and post-conviction appeals from 1995-1998. Court reporter Terri Mauer-Carter heard Sabo declare before the start of the trial, “I’m going to help them fry the n—–.”

For thirty years Mumia was kept in solitary confinement on death row under a death sentence that was illegally and unconstitutionally imposed. Federal district court Judge William Yohn ruled in December 2001 that Judge Albert Sabo incorrectly and unconstitutionally instructed the jury in deciding on life or death. Despite this decision, Mumia was kept on death row, in solitary confinement for the next ten years, while the prosecution pursued two appeals in the Federal Court of Appeals and two attempts at U.S. Supreme Court rulings to uphold the death sentence. All that time, Mumia sat in solitary confinement. According to Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rappatour on Torture, solitary confinement for longer than 15 days is a form of torture!  Mumia should be freed from prison, now!

This latest legal outrage comes nine months after the state conceded defeat in obtaining its desired “legal lynching” of Mumia. On December 8, 2011, Philadelphia District Attorney, Seth Williams—with the support of Maureen Faulkner, the Fraternal Order of Police and former District Attorney, Philadelphia Mayor and PA governor, Edward Rendell—announced that they were no longer seeking a death sentence for Mumia. This was their recognition that it was neither legally possible nor politically advantageous to hold a new sentencing hearing.

Mumia’s 1982 trial contained violations of every single element of due process and a fair trial. But it began with framing an innocent man. Mumia was framed for a crime he did not commit. His crime in the eyes of the state is that he was and continues to be “the voice of the voiceless,” a former spokesman for the Black Panther Party and continuing supporter of the MOVE organization.

In his first phone call from general population on January 28, 2012, Mumia relayed the following message to his wife, Wadiya Jamal:  “My dear friends, brothers and sisters – I want to thank you for your real hard work and support. I am no longer on death row, no longer in the hole, I’m in population. This is only Part One and I thank you for the work you’ve done. But the struggle is for freedom!”

Video W/Rachel Wolkenstein & Pam Africa Filing a Petition on Mumia’s Behalf

 Videographer: Kamau Becktemba http://youtu.be/Rq2Fah3Y_Uc

The Secret Scheme To Sabotage Abu-Jamal’s Appeal Rights

By: Linn Washington Jr.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the internationally recognized American political prisoner, thwarted a Philadelphia judge’s secretive court order that could have eliminated his future appeal rights when he filed a last- minute motion on August 23rd challenging that order sentencing him to life-without-parole.

Most supporters and detractors of Abu-Jamal had been expecting the formal conversion of his controversial death sentence to life-without-parole in the wake of a federal appeals court’s second and final rejection of requests from Philadelphia prosecutors to keep Abu-Jamal on death row back in April 2011.

What was unexpected by Abu-Jamal supporters were the procedures surrounding the secretive court order, which appears to have violated a number of Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Abu-Jamal’s Pro Se Motion for Post Sentence Relief and Reconsideration of Sentence referenced Rule 720 of Pennsylvania’s Criminal Procedure which states in part that defendants shall “have the right” to make post-sentence motion but that motion must be filed “no later than 10 days after imposition of sentence.”

That secretly issued resentencing order occurred on August 13, 2012, exactly ten days before Abu-Jamal filed his motion.

If that ten-day filing period had expired, undiscovered due to secrecy-shrouded issuance of the resentencing order about which no public notice or notice was provided to Abu-Jamal and his legal team, his legal ability to challenge his continued confinement would have been damaged, including his probable loss of future appeal rights.

Posted on August 24, 2012 in Philadelphia