Philly DA’s Office appeals judge’s ruling on Mumia Abu-Jamal
by Chris Palmer, Updated: January 25, 2019
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office on Friday appealed a judge’s ruling that convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal should be allowed to reargue his appeal before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The decision is the latest development in the long-running post-conviction saga of Abu-Jamal, 64, a former Black Panther and sometime radio reporter serving a life sentence for the Dec. 9, 1981, shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, 25, at 13th and Locust Streets.
The District Attorney’s Office did not comment beyond filing its notice of appeal.
Judith Ritter, an attorney for Abu-Jamal, said in an email that she was “very disappointed” by District Attorney Larry Krasner’s decision.
“Krasner’s appeal only risks delaying our opportunity to make our case to an appellate court untainted by bias,” Ritter said.
Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker ruled last month that Abu-Jamal could reargue his appeal before the high court because former Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille — who previously served as Philadelphia’s district attorney — did not recuse himself when Abu-Jamal’s case came before the court.
Tucker denied for lack of evidence an argument by Abu-Jamal that Castille had “personal involvement” in the prosecution.
Abu-Jamal’s case has moved slowly through the appeals process, which has frustrated Faulkner’s widow.
John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia police officers’ union and a frequent Krasner critic, said Friday that the district attorney’s decision to appeal was “the right thing to do.”
“Good,” he said when told of the decision. “I applaud them for doing that.”
January 28, 2019
We respect the trial Court and its independence as a distinct branch of government. The Philadelphia DAO’s notice of appeal reflects its agreement with some and disagreement with other aspects of the Court’s opinion. That opinion has sweeping and, in our view, problematic implications for a large volume of cases, in addition to its effect on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Our positions will be explained in full in our legal brief.
Meanwhile, our recent discovery of additional boxes relating to the Mumia Abu-Jamal matter that were either lost or concealed by prior administrations has been disclosed. It is disturbing that these boxes were marked with the name of a supervisor from a prior administration and are numbered in a fashion that is inconsistent with information about the case entered in the DAO’s file database by a prior administration.
Since that discovery, access to those boxes has been offered to the Court and defense counsel as our constitutional obligations and transparency require.
Also, in light of the recent discovery of boxes, an exhaustive search is underway for more boxes that may be mis-marked or housed in obscure locations. Additional discoveries, if any, will be disclosed with constitutionally required transparency.”
From attorney Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center, Pittsburgh
They are playing both sides. First, they claim the dispute with Judge Tucker’s ruling is not specific to Mumia but about its implications in general. This is different from past DA’s that have all repeatedly asserted Mumia’s guilt. This DA has yet to do that. Second, it shows a pivot to focus on misconduct of the past administrations for misrepresenting and concealing the records in this case. This latter point suggests a potential to push the DA to take a different position if further evidence of prosecutorial misconduct emerges. The statement is bullshit, and equivocation, but it shows that the office does not want to be seen in the same light as past administrations and could be susceptible to pressure down the line, it shows Krasner is vulnerable to being perceived as having been bullied by the FOP. The statement does not change his position, but it shows that the political calculus of the office has shifted and can be pushed in the future.