On Monday, February 25, 2013, Prof. Judith Ritter of Widener Law School and Christina Swarns of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. filed an appeal in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania challenging the fairness of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas’ surprise August 2012 Order resentencing Mumia Abu-Jamal to life imprisonment without parole.
That brief, which is attached, demonstrates that the trial court violated state and federal law:
- by resentencing Mumia without providing him, his counsel or anyone else notice that a resentencing would occur
- by failing to give Mumia or his counsel the opportunity to appear or present information or argument prior to sentencing, and
- by failing to make any effort to ensure that Mumia was informed of his appellate rights
NOTE FROM THE LEGAL TEAM:
Given these errors, the appeal requests a new sentencing hearing.
Here are the next steps:
- The Philadelphia County District Attorney’s Office will file a brief responding to our appeal
- we will file a reply to the DA’s brief
- there may be oral argument, and then
- the Superior Court will issue an opinion
The Court has three options, it can:
- conclude that there was nothing wrong with what the trial court did and uphold Mumia’s life without parole sentence; or
- conclude that the trial court made mistakes but there was no harm to Mumia because the outcome — a life without parole sentence — would be the same even if the proper procedures had been followed; or
- vacate the trial court’s order and send the case back to the Court of Common Pleas for a new sentencing hearing that complies with state and federal law.
It is hard to know how the court will rule, or how soon an opinion will be issued.
We will certainly let everyone know as soon as a decision is announced.
The Legal Team of Mumia Abu Jamal