Another delay in latest Mumia Abu-Jamal appeal attempt

Kristen Johanson
October 29, 2018 - 2:37 pm
Former Black Panther and convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, seen in this undated file photo, will be spared the death penalty, the Philadelphia district attorney announced on Wednesday, December 7, 2011, bringing a quiet end to a racially charged case

April Saul/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT/Sipa USA

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Monday morning brought another delay in the latest appeal attempt for the man convicted of murdering Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulker 37 years ago. Supporters for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the Faulkner family packed a city courtroom to hear arguments.

The contentious proceedings led to an outburst in the courtroom. 

After Judge Leon Tucker said he would wait to review all materials available, delaying his decision as to whether Abu-Jamal should get an appeal attempt, Faulkner's widow Maureen stood up with tears in her eyes, repeating: "This is wrong. This is wrong."

She was escorted out of court for the outburst. "My emotions got the best of me," she said.

A supporter for Abu-Jamal was also escorted out for shouting.

Tucker said he understands how sensitive the nature of this latest appeal attempt is, and says he has read, re-read and reviewed countless documents, adding, "No matter how long it takes, this court will do the right thing."

Judy Ritter represents Abu-Jamal and says former city District Attorney Ron Castille should never have ruled on her client's appeal attempts as a state Supreme Court justice.

"The appeals that Justice Castille presided over should be vacated at this point, and re-heard," she said.

Prosecutor Tracey Kavanagh disagrees.

"If there is no significant personal involvement in a critical decision, and no evidence of bias against the defendant, then there is no basis to grant him relief," she said.

This latest appeal attempt stems from a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving Castille, where the court found Castille had "personal significant bias" in an unrelated case against a man named Terrance Williams.

Tucker said he hopes to make his decision by next month.

Outside the courthouse, protesters from the Free Mumia group had signs, banners and a bull horn. At one point, they walked into the intersection at 13th and Filbert streets, trying to block a black mini-van carrying Faulkner's widow and family. Police officers stood in the middle of Filbert Street using their bikes as a barricade between the group and the van.