Legal Update

From Robert Bryan re: US Supreme Court Order (Jan. 19, 2010)

Go here for Robert Bryan’s update of Jan 19, 2010. (PDF)

JUNE 2009 UPDATE FROM MUMIA’S ATTORNEY

(Note: the word “ni – – er” was spelled as such in order guarantee that this message would not be blocked by certain email filters).

Legal Update

Date:         June 6, 2009
From:        Robert R. Bryan, lead counsel
Subject:    Mumia Abu-Jamal, death row, Pennsylvania

Introduction In recent months there have been significant legal developments concerning my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been on Pennsylvania’s death row for nearly three decades.  We are presently litigating on his behalf in both the United States Supreme Court and the trial court, the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia.

Mumia’s life on the line in this monumental struggle.  He is in the greatest danger since his arrest in 1981.

Like so many on death row, Mumia has been a victim of poverty, racial bigotry, fraud, inadequate legal representation, and an unfair trial.  The trial judge was a racist who referred to my client as a “ni – – er” whom he was going to help the prosecution “fry.”  Prior case lawyers failed to investigate and present pivotal issues both at trial and in the post-conviction process, thereby limiting what could be considered by the Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals.  Below is a brief summary of case developments.

U.S. Supreme Court, Washington There have been two separate cases pending in the Supreme Court concerning Mumia.  One involves strictly the death penalty, while the other concerns the prosecution’s use of racism in jury selection.

Abu-Jamal v. Beard, U.S. Sup. Ct. No. 08-8483  This case related to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s use of racism in selecting the jury that decided both the question of guilt and whether my client should die.  The prosecutor used 66.67% of his available strikes to exclude African Americans from sitting on the jury.  A judge in the lower federal court determined there was clear evidence that the prosecutor’s strikes of black people was race-based and thus unconstitutional.  The dissenting justice in a 2-1 decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, found overwhelming evidence of racism by the prosecutor.  (Abu-Jamal v. Horn, 520 F.3d 272 (3rd Cir. 2008).)  He explained 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.”

On April 6, 2009, the Supreme Court declined to hear our case. This came as a profound disappointment and shock, even though the court rejects 98-99% of cases presented for review.  Mumia’s case was exceptional, especially in view of the powerful dissenting decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals.  Our strong constitutional position was bolstered by briefing from the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, which I had invited into the case to address the racism issue. Tragically the court turned its back on it own case law which held that racism in jury selection offends the U.S. Constitution and mandates a new trial. Our extensive briefing had laid out the overwhelming evidence establishing the prosecutor’s race-based behavior and the racially-charged atmosphere of the trial.  On May 1, I submitted a Petition for Rehearing which has been rejected.

Beard v. Abu-Jamal, Sup. Ct. No. 08-652 We are still litigating in the Supreme Court in an entirely separate case in which the prosecution is seeking to overturn the victory achieved last year in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  In that ruling the court ordered a new jury trial on the question of the death penalty.  Both sides have gone back and forth in briefing in the Supreme Court.  Due to developments in another case with a similar issue, it may be several months before Mumia’s case is decided.  If we win, then there will be a new jury trial.  In the event of an adverse decision, the prosecution would push for a quick execution.

Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia, Commonwealth v. Abu-Jamal, Nos. 1357-1359  On April 20, 2009, we filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus Relief in the trial court, the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas.  At issue is the fact that Mumia was convicted on the basis of unreliable and incomplete expert ballistics testimony presented by the prosecution during the 1982 trial.  We have also moved for discovery of all related evidence possessed by the prosecution.

Other Developments in Europe and the United States In this country t he support and activism of the National Lawyers Guild has been crucial on our work on behalf of Mumia.  The cry for justice in the case of Mumia continues to be particularly strong in Europe.  As an example, on May 17, 2009 a feature article datelined Paris appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.  The piece is reprinted at the the end of this Legal Update and available online with photographs at: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/16/MN4517CARS.DTL.  It describes the activism of committed French human-rights activists on behalf of Mumia which has drawn considerable attention in the U.S.

United States Many people have heard about the support for Mumia by the National Lawyers Guild, headquartered in New York with chapters across the country, but know little of the details.  Since its founding in 1937 the NLG has provided legal support to a wide range of legal and social movements, starting with drafting New Deal legislation and aiding in the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and the United Auto Workers (UAW).  It has actively supported labor rights and played a central role in defending individuals targeted by the House Un-American Activities Committee.  NLG lawyers, legal workers and law students participated in the Civil Rights movement and opened “people’s law offices” in the South.  In the 1990s and into the new millennium the organization’s scope widened to include protecting individual rights against the increasing dominance of corporations, legal defense at mass demonstrations, and training lawyers about developments in the law such as newly developing anti-terrorism legislation.  The NLG aggressively opposes the death penalty, and many of its attorneys specialize in capital defense work.  That included the legal effort to save Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were executed June 19,1953 in New York.  Each year the NLG features a “Student Day Against the Death Penalty,” and actively assists 100 student chapters in hosting public education events to raise awareness of the multitude of problems with the death penalty and to work toward its abolition.  Law professor members and students have hosted hundreds of events featuring leading capital defense attorneys and former death-row inmates, and the NLG provides an organizing kit to students to help facilitate events against capital punishment.

Mumia’s case has been a national priority of the NLG for over two decades.  For many years he has served on the Board of Directors as Jailhouse Lawyer Vice President.  At the annual conventions numerous resolutions have been passed seeking a new and fair trial and over the years the NLG has co-sponsored events around the country related to his case.  Three years ago I invited the Guild to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief on his behalf.  Thereafter a brief was submitted on the issue of the death penalty and other issues by Heidi Boghosian, NLG Executive Director, a member professor from George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and others in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Further, Ms Boghosian, an outstanding lawyer, has been active is assisting me in the representation of Mumia for many years, and has joined me in a number of client meetings.  Mumia has enormous respect and trust for her and the NLG.

Germany In Berlin on March 27, the prestigious Akademie der Künst (Academy of Arts), located two doors from the U.S. Embassy at the Brandenburg Gate, hosted an outstanding panel discussion on Mumia as a journalist, author, and political prisoner.  It originated from the efforts of the writer Sabine Kebir, PEN, and Nicole Bryan.  The audience filled the auditorium.  Participating in the human-rights event, was:  Madame Danielle Mitterrand, former First Lady of France; Klaus Staeck, President of the Akademie; Johano Strasser, President of PEN Germany; Günter Wallraff, a well known author; Gerhart Rudolf Baum, former Minister of the Interior, the Bundestag (parliament), and United Nations representative; and me.  A video of the entire event is available on the Internet, at: http://www.adk.de/de/aktuell/forum_dokumentationen/forum_27.Akadgespr.html.  The commitment of supporters in Germany is a model of activism, especially those in Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen.

France The movement for Mumia in France is excellent.  It is led by the Collectif “Ensemble Sauvons Mumia Abu-Jamal” (Together We Will Save Mumia Abu-Jamal), composed of approximately 80 organizations.  In Prison My Whole Life, the outstanding film on Mumia, is being shown in theaters throughout the country and continues to draw acclaim at film festivals.  In Paris on March 15, it was awarded the Grand Prix and the Planete Prix at the Film Festival of Human Rights (Le Festival International du Film des Droits de l’Homme).  In my two speeches at the awards ceremony, I accepted the prizes not only on behalf of Mumia, but also “for all the men, women and children who are on death rows around the world.”  The movie was also featured at the Amnesty International, a past winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a sponsor of the film.  Claude Guillaumaud-Pujol, author of Mumia Abu-Jamal: The Voice of the Voiceless, and I spoke after each presentation.  The movie was also featured in the Lyon International Film Festival last October.  Mumia is grateful to Jacky Hortaut and the many supporters in France who do so much in the cause of justice.

Netherlands On April 3 and and 4, In Prison My Whole Life was shown at Amnesty International’s Movies That Matter film festival in The Hague and Amsterdam.  Nicole and I participated in both events.  There was a panel discussion following each showing in which Arlette Stuip, who attended Goddard College with Mumia, Ms. Guillaumaud-Pujol, and I discussed the case and answered questions.

Donations for Mumia’s Legal Defense in the U.S. Our legal effort is the front line of the battle for Mumia’s freedom and life.  His legal defense needs help.  The costs are substantial for our litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court and at the state level.  To help, please make your checks payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation (indicate “Mumia” on the bottom left).  All donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Code Code, section 501(c)(3), and should be mailed to:

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

Conclusion It is outrageous and a violation of human rights that Mumia remains in prison and on death row.  His life hangs in the balance.  My career has been marked by successfully representing people facing death in murder cases.  I will not rest until we win Mumia’s case.  Justice requires no less.

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan, Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal

San Francisco Chronicle

French Still Rally to Abu-Jamal’s Cause

Mary Papenfuss, Chronicle Foreign Service

Sunday, May 17, 2009

(05-17) 04:00 PDT Paris - — An ardent group of activists who meet weekly to protest the imprisonment of a death-row inmate, chanted slogans, shouted into microphones and held up printed banners. They could have been Bay Area residents in front of San Quentin before an execution, but they wore Chloé flats, spoke French, gathered near the Seine River and yelledliberté for a man languishing 3,700 miles away in a Pennsylvania prison.

While Mumia Abu-Jamal, 55, has been excoriated as a vicious cop killer in Philadelphia, he has been a cause-celebre in France for years.

In 2001, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe declared him an honorary citizen, adding Abu-Jamal to a list of notables such as Pablo Picasso and the Dalai Lama. In 2006, the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis named a street after him, prompting the city of Philadelphia to file a “crime of denial” grievance under an 1881 French law.

Late last year, Abu-Jamal’s San Francisco attorney, Robert R. Bryan, received a medal from the city of Lyon for his work against the death penalty. At a news conference, Bryan joined Danielle Mitterrand, the widow of former President Francois Mitterrand, to speak to Abu-Jamal by cell phone at a palatial 17th century city hall.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to order a new trial 27 years after Abu-Jamal’s 1982 conviction for killing 25-year-old Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Faulkner’s widow, Maureen, who now lives in Southern California, said she wept after the decision. “I’ve been haunted by the Free Mumia movement,” she has told reporters. “He murdered my husband in cold blood.”

Her sentiment and the court’s decision, however, haven’t discouraged Abu-Jamal’s European supporters, whose rallies often eclipse those held in New York and San Francisco. Along with Paris, he has been given the status of honorary citizen in some 20 other cities, including Palermo, Sicily, and is an honorary member of Berlin’s Association of Those Persecuted by the Nazi Regime.

Most of his ardent European backers believe he didn’t receive a fair trial and is innocent. Others are simply against the death penalty. Currently, Belarus is the only European country that still uses capital punishment.

“He’s innocent,” said Abdel Chaoui, a 56-year-old resident of Saint-Denis. “If he’s not, he shouldn’t be put to death … he has served enough time.”

Although French activists have lobbied for the release of other U.S. prisoners – at last month’s rally, protesters also collected signatures demanding a new trial for American Indian activist Leonard Peltier, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of two FBI agents – no other inmate galvanizes the French public like Abu-Jamal.

Some observers attribute such support to France’s love affair with African Americans who sought refuge from U.S. racism, such as dancer Josephine Baker, writer Richard Wright, singer Paul Robeson and poet Langston Hughes. Many French supporters are convinced American institutions are inherently racist.

In addition, Abu-Jamal “is uniquely articulate for a death-row inmate,” said UCLA political science Professor Mark Sawyer. “The idea of someone of his intellectual heft on death row makes some think of him as a condemned philosopher.”

Before his arrest, Abu-Jamal had no previous criminal record. He had been a member of the Black Panther Party and had worked as a cab driver and radio journalist. He has continued writing behind bars and recently published his sixth book -“Jailhouse Lawyers” published by San Francisco’s City Lights Publishers, making him a compelling poster child for death-penalty protesters.

Meanwhile, San Francisco attorney Bryan is convinced that European support will help his client avoid the death penalty and win a new trial.

“International support is crucial. If protests on Mumia’s behalf are heard on the other side of the Atlantic, it has a major effect,” he said. “Judges try to be impervious to public sentiment. But they’re not machines; fortunately, they’re human.”

The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal

On death row since a 1982 conviction for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer, Mumia Abu-Jamal has received much attention both at home and abroad.

Hollywood celebrities such as Martin Sheen, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Moore, Ed Asner and Edward James Olmos have called for a new trial. The American rock band Rage Against The Machine have sung his praises in “Voice of the Voiceless.” British actor Colin Firth produced a 2007 documentary about his case called “In Prison My Whole Life.”

Abu-Jamal supporters say somebody else shot the police officer, his court-appointed lawyer was incompetent and several witnesses have contradicted themselves over the years. In a 2000 report, Amnesty International said trial evidence was “contradictory and incomplete,”

But critics say Abu-Jamal, born Wesley Cook, shot the police officer, four witnesses testified that he was the gunman, and shell casings from his .38-caliber gun were found at the crime scene. Moreover, police say he confessed to the crime while recuperating from his wounds in a hospital bed.

Few, however, argue that a police officer named Daniel Faulkner pulled over a Volkswagen driven by William Cook, Abu-Jamal’s brother on Dec, 9, 1981, for a traffic violation. Faulkner soon called for backup, but was dead from gunshot wounds to the back and face by the time other officers arrived. Police found Abu-Jamal nearby in the cab he drove lying in a pool of his own blood from a gunshot wound to the chest. Abu-Jamal has long said he saw Faulkner beating his brother, and when he went to his aid the officer shot him.

Over the years, state and federal courts have denied various appeals for a retrial and a habeas corpus review. The courts have also denied claims that witnesses perjured themselves and that Abu-Jamal had ineffectual counsel. In the latest decision last month, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal appeals court ruling that upheld his conviction, rejecting the argument that prosecutors sought to exclude black people from the jury. Abu Jamal was convicted by a jury of 10 whites and two blacks.

Abu-Jamal’s San Francisco lawyer, Robert R. Bryan has filed a petition for a Supreme Court rehearing in the case, and is considering challenging ballistics findings in a separate action. The court has yet to consider a lower court ruling that set aside the death penalty. That ruling has been appealed by Philadelphia authorities, leaving Abu-Jamal on death row.

“We’re closer to meeting the executioner,” said Bryan.
E-mail Mary Papenfuss at foreign@sfchronicle.com.http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/17/MN4517CARS.DTL

This article appeared on page A – 8 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Lawyer Bryan on 2008 Litigation Before U.S. Supreme Court (September 12, 2008)

Date: September 12, 2008
From:      Robert R. Bryan, lead counsel
Subject:  U.S. Supreme Court litigation on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Introduction There has been extensive news attention to the ongoing federal proceedings concerning my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal, on the hotly contested issue of racism in jury selection and the ordering of a new jury trial on the question of life or death.  (Abu-Jamal v. Horn, 520 F.3d 272 (3rd Cir. 2008).)  The massive issue of racism will be presented to the U.S. Supreme Court later this year.

However, few are aware that we have been actively litigating separate issues concerning fraud and the subornation of perjury by the Philadelphia Police Department and the District Attorney of Philadelphia.  We are now before the Supreme Court regarding this governmental misconduct which resulted in Mumia being convicted and sentenced to death.

U.S. Supreme Court. On July 18, 2008, I filed on behalf of Mumia in the Supreme Court, a Petition for Writ of Certiorari.  (Abu-Jamal v. Pennsylvania, U.S. Sup. Ct. No. 08-5456.)  This arises from adverse rulings by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

The basis of the current litigation is that the prosecution persuaded witnesses to lie in order to obtain a conviction and death judgment against my client.  The following are excerpts from what I have presented to the Supreme Court (without case citations and legal argument):

QUESTIONS PRESENTED FOR REVIEW

I.  Whether a new trial is mandated where there is newly discovered evidence establishing that the police (a) persuaded a witness to falsely identify a defendant as having shot a police officer, and (b) induced another to falsely claim she heard him confess, in violation of rights guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

II.  Whether a new trial is required where there is newly discovered evidence which establishes that the prosecution used a fabricated confession and false identification testimony in a capital murder trial, in violation of the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

III. Whether the prosecutorial suppression of exculpatory evidence including the fact that (a) a witness was persuaded to lie that she had witnessed the homicide and (b) another encouraged to manufacture a false confession attributed to Petitioner, contravened Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and the right to a fair trial, due process of law, and a fair penalty trial guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

IV. Whether it is error for a state court to deny a hearing on newly discovered evidence of prosecutorial fraud and innocence, where the new claims involving police-induced false testimony were previously unknown to a petitioner and could not have been ascertained by the exercise of due diligence because of state interference.

REASONS FOR GRANTING THE WRIT

I. THE NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE ESTABLISHES THAT THE PROSECUTION MANIPULATED A PURPORTED EYEWITNESS TO FALSELY IDENTIFY PETITIONER AS THE SHOOTER, IN VIOLATION OF THE FIFTH, SIXTH EIGHTH, AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS.

Petitioner was deprived of his right to a fair and reliable determination of guilt and penalty, as guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution because the state’s purported eyewitness, Cynthia White, was coaxed and coerced into providing false testimony against him.  Her testimony was critical to the prosecution.  If the jury had learned that her testimony was the product of threats and favors, there is a reasonable probability that the result of the trial would have been different. . . .

Newly discovered evidence from [Yvette} Williams establishes that White lied by falsely testifying that she observed Petitioner shoot police officer Daniel Faulkner.  In fact, she did not see the shooting.  White was threatened with imprisonment and in fear of being killed by the police if she did not help them by testifying against Petitioner.  As Ms. Williams explained:

6.  When [Cynthia White] told me she didn’t see who shot Officer Faulkner, I asked her why she was “lying on that man” (Mumia Abu-Jamal). She told me it was because for the police and vice threatened her life. Additionally, the police were giving her money for tricks.  “The way she talked, we were talking “G’s” ($1,000.00).  She also said she was terrified of what the police would do to her if she didn’t say that Mumia shot Officer Faulkner.  According to Lucky (White), the police told her they would . . . send her “up” . . . for a long time if she didn’t testify to what they told her to say. . . .

7.  Lucky was worried the police would kill her if she didn’t say what they wanted. . . . She was scared when she told me all of this plus she was crying and shaking.  Whenever she talked about testifying against Mumia Abu-Jamal, and how the police were making her lie, she was nervous and very excited and I could tell how scared she was from the way she was talking and crying.

8. Lucky told me that what really happened that night was that she was . . . in the area . . . when Officer Faulkner got shot, but she definitely did not see who did it.  She also told me that she had a drug habit and was high on drugs when it happened.  She tried to run away after the shooting, but the cops grabbed her and wouldn’t let her go.  They took her in the car first and told her that she saw Mumia shoot Officer Faulkner. Declaration of Yvette Williams, Jan. 28, 2002 at 2-3.

The declaration of Ms. Williams does not merely provide direct contradiction of the prosecution’s key witness at trial, but it also materially undermines the integrity of the case against Petitioner.  The fact that the prosecution witness testified falsely as a result of police inducement taints all of the evidence upon which the prosecution relied at the original trial, and offends the Constitution.  Such proof would not only have impeached White’s testimony, but would have created doubt about the motives and trustworthiness of law enforcement personnel involved in this case. . . . The subornation of perjury from White results in the inescapable conclusion that the investigating officers caused other witnesses to lie, and that exculpa tory and impeachment evidence was suppressed.  Evidence that White was coerced into lying would have been far more significance than simply canceling out her testimony, which in and of itself was of major significance.  It would raise a host of questions regarding why the police felt the need to fabricate evidence. . . .

II.  NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE DEMONSTRATES THAT PETITIONER WAS FOUND GUILTY AND SENTENCED TO DEATH THROUGH THE USE OF A POLICE FABRICATED CONFESSION IN VIOLATION OF THE FIFTH, SIXTH EIGHTH, AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS.

Petitioner was deprived of his right to a fair and reliable determination of guilt and penalty, as guaranteed by the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, because of the state’s reliance on a fabricated confession and by its thwart ing of defense efforts to expose that falsehood.  Newly discovered evidence has established that Priscilla Durham, a hospital security guard who testified at trial to hearing Petitioner allegedly confess, has since admitted to concocting the story.  Declaration of Kenneth Pate, Apr. 18, 2003.  She admitted to Mr. Pate that in fact she never heard Petitioner make any incriminating statements.  He recalls:

2.  Sometime around the end of 1983 or the beginning of 1984 I had a telephone conversation with Priscilla Durham in which the subject of Mumia Abu-Jamal came up.

5.  Then Priscilla started talking about Mumia Abu-Jamal.  She said that when the police brought him in that night she was working at the hospital.  Mumia was all bloody and the police were interfering with his treatment, saying “let him die.”

6.  Priscilla said that the police told her that she was part of the “brotherhood” of police since she was a security guard and that she had to stick with them and say that she heard Mumia say that he killed the police officer, when they brought Mumia in on a stretcher.

7.  I asked Priscilla: “Did you hear him say that?”  Priscilla said:  “All I heard him say was “Get off me, get off me, they’re trying to kill me. (Declaration of Kenneth Pate, Apr. 18, 2003.)

Ms. Durham was the only civilian to claim that Petitioner admitted the shooting.  There is a reasonable probability that if the jury was informed that Durham was pressured by police into lying, it certainly would have disregarded the alleged confession.  Without proof of a confession, there is a reasonable probability that the verdict would have been different. . . .

Moreover, as in the situation of the fabricated testimony of Cynthia White, disclosure of the pressure placed upon Durham to falsely claim she heard the confession, would likewise create a reasonable probability that the other witnesses and evidence presented would be viewed by the jury with skepticism.  In effect disclosure that the police caused both Durham and White to lie, would have brought into question the credibility and legitimacy of the other evidence presented again Petitioner.  In that even the prosecution case against Petitioner would have collapsed like a house of cards.

By the prosecution concealing evidence that two of its crucial witnesses lied, Petitioner was deprived of his right to a fair trial and due process of law under the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.  The petition filed on behalf of him in the state court addressed both governmental interference and newly discovered evidence that could not have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.   Both claims allege violations of recognized constitutional rights under Amendments Five, Six, Eight and Fourteen.  Both claims allege the prosecutorial suppression of exculpatory material evidence and the presentation of false evidence in contravention of the right to a fair trial and due process of law guaranteed by the Constitution . . .

The newly discovered facts establish that the police as part of the prosecution were involved in obtaining false material testimony against Petitioner at trial.  The result compromised not only his fair trial rights, but led to a death judgment that violated the very essence of the Eighth Amendment.

CONCLUSION

The declaration of Yvette Williams discloses that Cynthia White told her that she lied on the stand because she feared reprisals from the police if she refused to do so.  The declaration of Kenneth Pate reveals that Priscilla Durham lied in testifying against Petitioner because she was pressured to so by the police.  The witnesses’ fears, created by the prosecution through the police, not only explain the false testimony but also why the witnesses did not come forward.  The prosecutor in Petitioner’s trial had an absolute obligation to disclose the threats and efforts to suborn perjury. . . . By suppressing exculpatory evidence which included the fact that (a) a witness was persuaded to lie that she had witnessed the homicide, and (b) another was encouraged to manufacture a false confession attributed to Petitioner, contravened the right to a fair trial, due process of law, and a fair penalty trial, guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

On August 21, 2008, the Philadelphia District Attorney filed a brief in opposition to the relief we seek on procedural grounds, that prior counsel failed to raise the issues in a timely manner.  Even though the Supreme Court considers only an incredibly small number of cases at this stage, we remain hopeful in view of the prosecution’s egregious misconduct.

Later in the year we will be going separately before the Supreme Court concerning the denial of an entirely new trial by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Third Circuit.  That court did grant a new jury trial on the question of penalty, life or death.  Nonetheless, we are pursuing an entirely new trial.  The issue of racism in jury selection will be presented, along with the fact that the prosecutor made misrepresentations to the jury in order to obtain a murder conviction against Mumia.

Donations for Mumia’s Legal Defense in the U.S. For tax deductible donations to the legal defense, please make checks payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation (indicate “Mumia” on the bottom left).  They should be mailed to:

Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal, P.O. Box 2012, New York, NY 1019-2012.

Conclusion. I will not rest until Mumia is free.  That he remains in prison and on death row is a travesty of justice and an affront to civilized standards.  We must all continue to fight for what is right, and not lose hope.  Free Mumia.

Yours very truly,

Robert R. Bryan

Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-4117
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
[RobertRBryan@aol.com]

On 3rd Circuit Denial to Reconsider

Date: July 22, 2008

From: Robert R. Bryan, lead counsel

Subject: Federal ruling regarding Mumia Abu-Jamal, death row, Pennsylvania [please circulate]
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia

Today our Petition for Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc, submitted on behalf of my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal, was denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Simply put, we did not receive the needed majority vote from the nine sitting judges; at least five votes for a rehearing were necessary. However, Justice Thomas L. Ambro continues to urge the granting of relief on the issue of racism in jury selection. That position, as detailed in his brilliant dissenting opinion of March 27, 2008, will continue to serve as a beacon of hope as we press on for a new trial and Mumia’s freedom. Judge Ambro said 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.” A copy of today’s decision is attached.

Reaction
Mumia and I had a legal conference this afternoon. He, as I, was stunned by the federal court’s refusal to grant relief since it flies in the face of established legal precedent in both the U.S. Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. I am furious because racism continues to raise its ugly head in this country, and should have no place in our legal system. The indisputable facts are that the prosecutor engaged in racism in selecting the jury in this case, and that bigotry lingers today in Philadelphia . It would be naive not to realize that this case continues to reek of politics and injustice.

U.S. Supreme Court
We will be seeking relief in the Supreme Court. The Petition for Writ of Certiorari will be filed by October 20, 2008, unless there is an extension. The racism issue will be presented, along with the fact that the prosecutor made misrepresentations to the jury in order to obtain a murder conviction against Mumia.

Conclusion
My goal remains a complete reversal of the conviction, even though the federal court has already granted a new jury trial on the question of the death penalty. We will not rest until Mumia is free.

Yours very truly,

Robert R. Bryan

Lawyer’s Update (Robert Bryan, December 4, 2006)

Letter from Attorney Robert R. Bryan
12/4/06

Dear Friends: Last month my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and I sent letters to officials in Paris in response to a fraudulent political attempt to have his honorary citizenship there revoked. I am pleased to report that the effort, based upon misrepresentations and lies, has failed. Mumia, a great and courageous journalist, continues to be an honorary citizen of Paris. Further, the street named after him in Saint Denis remains “Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal”. Linn Washington, a prominent Philadelphia journalist and university professor, recently wrote an enlightening article in CounterPunch on the entire affair: The Mumia Abu-Jamal Case After 25 Years: Still More Keystone Kops Antics, Dec. 1, 2006. It should be read and circulated, and can be found at counterpunch.org. Your interest is appreciated. With best wishes,

Robert

=========
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123

Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Lawyer’s Update (Robert Bryan, November 30, 2006)

Letter from Attorney Robert R. Bryan
11/30/06

[Note: “help’em fry the ni – – er” is misspelled only to avoid email profanity filters that would prevent this message from reaching some recipients if the text were to be copied for email distribution]

Dear Friends:
Two weeks ago the District Attorney of Philadelphia filed a brief in reply to our most recent brief filed on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Even though this was to be the last of the briefs before oral argument, we felt obligated to respond due to the complexity of the issues and the government’s factual misrepresentations. Attached is the Response of Appellee and Appellant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, to Sur-Reply Brief, submitted this week to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia.
This case is of enormous consequence. It concerns the political repression of an outspoken journalist known globally as the “Voice of the Voiceless,” the right to a fair trial, and the struggle against the death penalty. The authorities want to kill my client in order to silence his voice and pen. We must not let that occur. Racism and politics are threads that have run through this case since his arrest on December 9, 1981, and continue today.
Each of the issues under consideration by the federal court are of great constitutional significance. They include:

  • The prosecutor’s exclusion of African Americans from sitting on the jury.
  • The bias and racism of the trial judge, Albert F. Sabo, who stated that he was going to “help’em fry the ni – – er.”
  • The prosecutor’s “appeal after appeal” argument that essentially called upon the jurors to disregard the right to the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt, and err on the side of guilt.
  • The judge’s unfair and skewed jury instructions and verdict form that resulted in the death penalty, since jurors were precluded from considering any mitigating evidence unless they all agreed on the existence of a particular special circumstance.

We will be presenting oral argument before a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals. Even though no date has been set, this will likely occur within the next few months. My purpose remains to win this life-and-death struggle, gain a new and fair trial, and see my client walk out of jail a free person. However, as I have warned, Mr. Abu-Jamal remains in great danger.
Thank you for your concern in this campaign for justice.

With best wishes,
Robert

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Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Lawyer’s Update (Robert Bryan, October 24, 2006)

Dear Friends:

On October 23, 2006, the Fourth-Step Reply Brief of Appellee and Cross-Appellant, Mumia Abu-Jamal was submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia.  (Abu-Jamal v. Horn, U.S. Ct. of Appeals Nos. 01-9014, 02-9001.)  It is attached.

Oral argument will likely be scheduled during the coming months.  I will advise when a hearing date is set.

The attached brief is of enormous consequence since it goes to the essence of our client’s right to a fair trial, due process of law, and equal protection of the law, guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  The issues include:

  • Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied the right to due process of law and a fair trial because of the prosecutor’s “appeal-after-appeal” argument which encouraged the jury to disregard the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt, and err on the side of guilt.
  • Whether the prosecution’s exclusion of African Americans from sitting on the jury violated Mr. Abu-Jamal’s right to due process and equal protection of the law, in contravention of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).
  • Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied due process and equal protection of the law during a post-conviction hearing because of the bias and racism of Judge Albert F. Sabo, who was overheard during the trial commenting that he was “going to help’em fry the nigger.”

That the federal court is hearing issues which concern Mr. Abu-Jamal’s right to a fair trial is a great milestone in this struggle for human rights.  This is the first time that any court has made a ruling in nearly a quarter of a century that could lead to a new trial and freedom.  Nevertheless, our client remains on Pennsylvania’s death row and in great danger.

Mr. Abu-Jamal, the “voice of the voiceless,” is a powerful symbol in the international campaign against the death penalty and for political prisoners everywhere.  The goal of Professor Judith L. Ritter, associate counsel, and I is to see that the many wrongs which have occurred in this case are righted, and that at the conclusion of a new trial our client is freed.

Your concern is appreciated

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
============
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123

Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Lawyer’s Update (Robert Bryan, October 24, 2006)

Dear Friends:

On October 23, 2006, the Fourth-Step Reply Brief of Appellee and Cross-Appellant, Mumia Abu-Jamal was submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia.  (Abu-Jamal v. Horn, U.S. Ct. of Appeals Nos. 01-9014, 02-9001.)  It is attached.

Oral argument will likely be scheduled during the coming months.  I will advise when a hearing date is set.

The attached brief is of enormous consequence since it goes to the essence of our client’s right to a fair trial, due process of law, and equal protection of the law, guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  The issues include:

  • Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied the right to due process of law and a fair trial because of the prosecutor’s “appeal-after-appeal” argument which encouraged the jury to disregard the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt, and err on the side of guilt.
  • Whether the prosecution’s exclusion of African Americans from sitting on the jury violated Mr. Abu-Jamal’s right to due process and equal protection of the law, in contravention of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).
  • Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied due process and equal protection of the law during a post-conviction hearing because of the bias and racism of Judge Albert F. Sabo, who was overheard during the trial commenting that he was “going to help’em fry the nigger.”

That the federal court is hearing issues which concern Mr. Abu-Jamal’s right to a fair trial is a great milestone in this struggle for human rights.  This is the first time that any court has made a ruling in nearly a quarter of a century that could lead to a new trial and freedom.  Nevertheless, our client remains on Pennsylvania’s death row and in great danger.

Mr. Abu-Jamal, the “voice of the voiceless,” is a powerful symbol in the international campaign against the death penalty and for political prisoners everywhere.  The goal of Professor Judith L. Ritter, associate counsel, and I is to see that the many wrongs which have occurred in this case are righted, and that at the conclusion of a new trial our client is freed.

Your concern is appreciated

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
============
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123

Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Notice from Mumia’s Lawyer (October 8, 2006)

Dear Friends:

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the  Third Circuit, Philadelphia , granted our motion for an extension of time to file the Reply Brief on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal.  It is now due to be filed by October 16, 2006.

This case is of enormous complexity and concerns issues of great constitutional significance.  Our goal is to win a new and fair trial, and see that Mr. Abu-Jamal is freed.

Thank you for your support in this struggle for human rights.

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
============
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan

2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123

Lawyer’s Update (Robert Bryan, September 4, 2006)

[Received: September 3, 2006]

Dear Friends:

On October 4, 2006, our Reply Brief in response to the briefs submitted by the district attorney will be filed on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia .  This is pursuant to a September 1 court order.

We continue to aggressively pursue relief for Mr. Abu-Jamal.  On July 20, Professor Judith L. Ritter, associate counsel, and I filed a lengthy opening brief supported by voluminous exhibits.  A week later NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., through Christine Swarns filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief.  A separate amicus curiae brief was filed for the National Lawyers Guild by Jill Soffiyah Elijah of the Harvard Law School, Professor Zachary Wolfe of George Washington University Law School, and Heidi Boghosian, its Executive Director.  They were joined by the National Conference of Black Lawyers, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice of Harvard Law School, Southern Center for Human Rights, and the National Jury Project.  These amicus briefs greatly strengthen our quest to protect the constitutional rights of Mr. Abu-Jamal and secure a reversal.

This case concerns my client’s right to a fair trial, and the struggle against the death penalty and the political repression of an outspoken journalist.  Racism and politics are threads that have run through this case since his 1981 arrest. The issues under consideration by the court are complex and of great significance under the United States Constitution, include:

  1. Whether  Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied the right to due process of law and a fair trial under the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments because of the prosecutor’s “appeal after appeal” argument that called upon the jurors to disregard the right to the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt, and err on the side of guilt.
  2. Whether the prosecutor’s use of peremptory challenges to exclude African Americans from sitting on the jury violated Mr. Abu-Jamal’s right to due process and equal protection of the law under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments and contravened the prohibition against racism in jury selection held in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).
  3. Whether the verdict form and jury instructions thatresulted in the death penalty deprived Mr. Abu-Jamal of rights guaranteed by theEighth and Fourteenth Amendments to due process of law, equal protection of thelaw, and not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and violatedMills v. Maryland, 486 U.S. 367 (1988), since the judge precludedjurors from considering any mitigating evidence unless they all agreed on theexistence of a particular special circumstance.
  4. Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied due process and equal protection of the law under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments during post-conviction proceedings as a result of the bias of Judge Albert F. Sabo which included the statement that he was going to “help’em fry the nigger”.

The case continues to move rapidly.  Once the briefing phase is complete, we will present oral argument before a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals.  I will notify you when a date is eventually set.

Our purpose is to win this life-and-death struggle, gain a new and fair trial, and see our client walk out of jail a free person.  However, Mr. Abu-Jamal remains in great danger.  We must redouble our efforts to prevent his execution.

Thank you for your concern in this campaign for justice.

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
=============
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123

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