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  • Apr 22, 2017
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Although the prosecutors won’t get their wish in terms of death by lethal injection, they’re trying to get it by old age. In other words, they want to keep Mumia in prison until he dies alone in a cage as a decrepit elderly man. But we ain’t having that. And by “we,” I mean the attorneys who will be raising issues in court on April 24 and the activists who will be raising hell in the streets on that date. More about that later.

But right now, allow me to explain three (of many) reasons why I say Mumia is innocent:

First, the D.A.’s own ballistics expert performed standard tests to determine whether the gun that Mumia supposedly had was the same one from which the fatal bullet was fired. However, that expert conceded that the tests were “inconclusive.” In other words, that gun was not shown to have fired the shot that killed Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981.

Second, the police- who had Mumia in custody at the scene of the crime that they say he committed- claimed that due to an oversight they failed to perform the standard gunpowder residue test on Mumia’s hands. An oversight? In a high profile case involving the alleged cold-blooded execution of a heroic white police officer by a supposedly crazed Black revolutionary? Or is it more likely that they did perform the test but didn’t get the results they wanted so they destroyed them because if there’s no gunpowder on Mumia’s hands then he couldn’t have fired a gun? They certainly couldn’t admit that. By the way, they did test his jacket and Faulkner’s jacket and found gunpowder residue on both because they had been shot- so why not test Mumia’s hands? Hmmm.

Third, the police alleged that Mumia confessed by saying “I shot the MFer and I hope he dies.” But no one had heard anything about this purported confession until a police officer mentioned it- not a few minutes into the investigation but- 64 days later. Also, another officer who had been with Mumia from the time he was found lying in the street until the time he was being treated in the hospital wrote that “the Negro male made no comment.” And a physician stated that the life-threatening bullet wound in Mumia’s chest made it medically impossible for him to have spoken at all.

And here’s some info proving that Mumia is “legally not guilty,” which means he didn’t get a fair trial. You should be aware that the penalty phase of a capital case is actually part of the trial itself because the trial jury decides the punishment unlike in non-capital cases. On December 18, 2001, U.S. District Court Judge William Yohn (who was appointed by Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1991) issued an order announcing that Mumia should not be executed after having been found guilty. That order resulted from jury instructions given by trial Judge Albert Sabo in 1982 that were so flawed they could have misled the jurors into thinking they had to be unanimous regarding mitigating factors justifying a life sentence instead of death. Put another way, Judge Sabo erroneously or intentionally made it very easy for the jury to illegally vote to kill Mumia.

Now, let’s get back to the upcoming April 24 date. On that date in the Criminal Justice Center, a judge will consider Mumia’s Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition. What’s a PCRA petition, you ask? It’s a legal document that’s filed if there was a “major constitutional violation,” if a defense lawyer had screwed up by being “ineffective” in his/her representation, or if “newly discovered evidence” is found. Even though there have been previous PCRA filings as well as previous appeals in Mumia’s case, multiple PCRA petitions can be filed almost any time under certain appropriate circumstances. And one of those circumstances currently applies to Mumia.

In June of last year, the U.S. Supreme Court in Williams v. Pennsylvania ruled that State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille violated Terrance Williams’ constitutional rights (i.e., due process rights of life and liberty under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments). And he did so when he refused to recuse- or remove- himself in 2014 from participating in deciding William’s 2012 PCRA petition since he was the D.A. in 1986 who had designated Williams for a death penalty prosecution resulting from a 1984 murder for which he was later sentenced by a jury to death.

In that Williams case, the U.S. Supreme Court blasted Castille by writing that Williams’ rights were violated because there is an “impermissible risk of actual bias when a judge earlier had significant, personal involvement as a prosecutor in a critical decision regarding the defendant’s case … (Such a) likelihood of bias on the part of a judge is too high to be constitutionally tolerated.”

That “impermissible risk of actual bias” applies directly to Mumia’s case because in 1989 D.A. Castille filed legal documents opposing Mumia’s appeal and in 1994 he was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. By the way, one of his major campaign donors was the Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P.) which honored him as “Man of The Year.” From 1995 through 2008, Castille participated in every ruling against Mumia. That ain’t right. And it ain’t constitutional either.

That’s why Mumia’s lawyers will be raising issues on April 24 at 9 a.m. in Criminal Justice Center courtroom 805. And that’s why you must support them and Mumia by (lawfully) raising hell at that location on that date beginning an hour earlier at 8 a.m. For more info, call Mobilization For Mumia at (215) 724-1618. The goal of the lawyers and the activists is nothing less than immediate freedom or a new trial for Mumia. Anything else is, as the U.S. Supreme Court noted, unconstitutional.

By the way, on that date, say “Happy 63rd Birthday And Many More, Mumia!”

Michael Coard, Esquire can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. His “Radio Courtroom” show can be heard on WURD900AM. And his “TV Courtroom” show can be seen on PhillyCam/Verizon/Comcast.

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