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5/30/08 Legal Update

From: Robert R. Bryan, lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal

This Legal Update is made on behalf of my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is on Pennsylvania's death row.

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia, has granted my motion for a 14-day extension of time to file the Petition for Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc. It will be submitted on June 10. The following is a related news story:

The Philadelphia Enquirer

Posted on Wed., May. 28, 2008
Abu-Jamal lawyers granted two-week extension

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit yesterday granted a two-week extension for lawyers for death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal to file a petition for a rehearing on his effort to get a new trial.

Abu-Jamal was convicted in 1982 of the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner and was sentenced to death. In late March, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit affirmed Abu-Jamal's conviction but vacated the death sentence. The court said Abu-Jamal should be sentenced to life in prison or get a chance to persuade a new Philadelphia jury that he deserves a life sentence rather than death.

Defense lawyer Robert R. Bryan of San Francisco intends to seek a rehearing before the court on his contention that Abu-Jamal deserves a new trial, or at least a hearing on his argument that some blacks were intentionally excluded from his jury. The court said the new filing deadline is June 10. - Emilie Lounsberry

On March 27 the U.S. Court of Appeals court ordered a new jury trial on whether Mumia should be sentenced to life or death because of the trial judge's unconstitutional jury instructions. Mumia remains on death row since the ruling has not taken effect and the prosecution has vowed to appeal and continue its quest to see him executed. It is always good when there is a determination that the death penalty was wrongfully imposed, especially where, as here, it could help other inmates sentenced to death. Yet, we are not pleased with the ruling because the court refused to reverse the conviction and order a new trial on the question of innocence. The indisputable facts are that the prosecutor engaged in racism to select the jury, made a misleading argument to the jury which turned the concept of reasonable doubt on its head, and the trial judge was biased.

The bright side of the federal decision is that Justice Thomas L. Ambro wrote a lengthy dissenting opinion on the issue of racism in jury selection. His first sentence set the tone: “Excluding even a single person from a jury because of race violates the Equal Protection Clause of our Constitution.” He concluded that the “core guarantee of equal protection, ensuring citizens that their State will not discriminate on account of race, would be meaningless were we to approve the exclusion of jurors on the basis of . . . race. . . . I respectfully dissent.” The words of Justice Ambro are a light in the darkness, a roadmap as to our effort to seek a rehearing before the full court.

United States Supreme Court On separate issues arising directly from the state courts, recently I filed pleadings on behalf of Mumia in the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice David H. Souter has granted my motion setting the filing date for the certiorari petition as July 18, 2008. This concerns issues we litigated for three years in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, that the prosecution falsely manipulated eyewitness testimony and used fabricated evidence. This has no bearing on the proceedings pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Donations for Mumia's Legal Defense in the United States With Mumia's authorization, a process exists in the U.S. which guaranteeing guaranteeing that donations will go only to the legal defense, and are tax-deductible. This is the exclusive process in this country for donations to the legal defense rather than other purpose. Checks should be made payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation (indicate "Mumia" on the bottom left), and mail to:

Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 2012
New York, NY 10159-2012

Conclusion My goal remains a new jury trial in which Mumia will be found "not guilty" so that he can return home to his family. The ongoing concern by so many people for human rights is appreciated. Mumia and I thank you.

Yours very truly,

Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal