September 15, 2009
World-renowned revolutionary journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted and sent to death row in the killing of a police officer in Philadelphia, has now gone through 27 years of fruitless appeal proceedings. Despite mounting and irrefutable evidence of Jamal’s innocence, all of these hearings have upheld his conviction in a 1982 trial, which was rightly called “a monumental miscarriage of justice from beginning to end,” by crime reporter J Patrick O’Connor.
Then, last April, the US Supreme Court finished off this cowardly charade by denying Jamal a final hearing, without so much as a word of explanation. In making this flat-out rejection of Mumia’s appeal, the Supreme Court–like the Federal Third Circuit Court a year earlier–had to knowingly violate its own well-established precedent in Batson v Kentucky–the 1986 ruling which said that purging a jury on the basis of race was unconstitutional. A violation required a new trial, even retroactively. In Mumia’s case, the prosecutor used at least ten out of 15 peremptory challenges to exclude qualified blacks for reasons that were not applied to prospective white jurors. Only one such exclusion is required to trigger a conviction reversal under Batson!