Mumia’s Judge on Racism and Justice

Update from December 16th

We are locked in conflict up on the 8th floor of the Common Pleas Courthouse in Philadelphia, arguing over guilt, innocence and 41 years of unjust imprisonment.

We know that love is courageous, fearless, and transformative.

We understand that we are only here because Mumia Abu Jamal survived being shot in the chest as he ran across a street to help both his brother and Daniel Faulkner. On December 9th 1981, when police critically wounded Mumia Abu-Jamal, and someone else fatally shot police officer Danny Faulkner, two large and loving families were torn apart.

In the Courtroom on December 16th, 2022

In a shocking reprieve, Judge Lucretia Clemons ordered the District Attorney to open up all of their files to Mumia Abu-Jamal’s defense team. Judge Clemons, stayed for the moment, her “intent to dismiss” notice. She stated she would rule in 60-90 days on Mumia’s request for a new trial.

Speaking directly to all parties from the bench, she said “I do not want to return to this issue again. I want, once and for all, to resolve all of these questions.”

Prior to her surprising directive, which occurred at the very close of a contentious hearing, there had been no indication that Judge Clemons would be sympathetic to granting relief. Her questions regarding the “Batson Claim”, specifically notes taken by prosecutor Joseph McGill during the original trial, in which he actively tracked the race of prospective jurors, did not recognize the very basis of Batson v. Kentucky.  Striking even one juror because of a racial consideration is a violation of the potential jurors rights as well as the defendants constitutional rights. She seemed to assume, despite evidence to the contrary, that the DA’s office in 1982 was color blind and had no animus. She also did not waiver from her written decision on the “Brady Issue” that the two main prosecutor’s “eyewitnesses”  even if they did lie, was not necessary, “not material” for the conviction. Meaning even if they were paid or incentivized for their testimony that information would not have impacted the deliberations of even one juror. During arguments Judge Clemons did not probe prosecutor Grady Gervino’s mischaracterizations of the law and the record. She did not address or expose his omissions. Clemons simply chose not to challenge him at all.

Thus, the reason for Judge Clemons’ expansive discovery order is ripe for speculation. She implied that allowing a complete review of prosecution files would resolve any and all issues of potential suppressed evidence, thus, in her mind, finally closing the door on the case and allowing her to wrap it up.

The problem with that theory is that if you frame someone for murder it is really hard to cover up all the loose ends. It makes one wonder: does Judge Clemons truly understand the depth and widespread corruption of the Philadelphia police department and the former DA’s office?  The police and former prosecutors acted with complete impunity for decades. They are proud to be the sons of Rizzo, and they certainly did not care about a defendant’s constitutional rights. See this Assistant District Attorney Jack McMahon prosecution training tape about removing Black people from Philadelphia Juries!

The current District Attorney’s office knows and will admit (just not in open court), that the police for decades routinely brutally beat victims and witnesses, and manufacturing false confessions. The police suppressed evidence of innocence, fixed crime scenes, raped informants, robbed bodegas, payed witnesses for testimony, planted evidence and were on the take. 

Philadelphia prosecutors and the courts did not just turn a blind eye; they actually colluded and continue to collude with the police to maintain convictions of a generation of poor black and brown people in Philadelphia.  Police and prosecutorial corruption in Philadelphia is no secret.  In this case, the byzantine rules of the post conviction relief act (PCRA) has already kept key evidence* from being in the record before Judge Clemon.** Now the question remains did “district attorney McGill and the detectives keep additional notes that reveal corruption”? 

When you frame someone, it is super hard to put all of that back into the police and prosecutor’s Pandora’s Box. Will the police turn over to the defense the actual “Homicide File”? They often in many homicide cases turn over police files as well, why not this one? What is to hide?

The courts and lawyers are only one part of what it takes to realize justice. Equally important is the ability to connect with the hearts of those who will join us in the quest to bring Mumia Abu-Jamal home to his family. That is our job.

In the coming days we will bring you details of an amazing week of outstanding grassroots activism including hundreds of letters from France and the U.S. supporting Love Not Phear, Julia Wright’s prophetic letter and organizing, and Democracy Now’s coverage of the story featuring Judge Wendell Griffen Division 5 Judge of the Sixth Circuit, for Pulaski County in Arkansas.Author of Justice for Both Maureen Faulkner and Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Please take six minutes of your time to view this video.  It is shocking, honest, and it is a way forward.

I think one of the most important things to focus on is truth and reconciliation. A familiar cry in the street during the social justice protests is ‘No justice, no peace.’ And while I know that many people want peace, they really want quiet. Quiet is not the same as peace. Peace requires justice, and justice requires truth.”
– Judge Clemons

Healing the Wounds of Racism: In deed. 

Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation require that the racially based discrimination and trauma inflicted by Philadelphia police and prosecutors against Mumia Abu-Jamal be openly acknowledged and addressed. 

It is time for the courts of law and the courts of public opinion to acknowledge this historic miscarriage of justice, and right that wrong, by granting Mumia Abu-Jamal relief.  

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been in prison for 40 years. In 2019, boxes of evidence were found in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office that had been hidden since Mumia’s 1982 trial: evidence of bribed witnesses and race-based jury selection bias.  At this point, Mumia’s Judge, Lucretia Clemons, is saying she will not allow that evidence to be heard! 

After viewing the 6min video, Healing the Wounds of Racism by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Lucretia Clemons, we are asking you to send us your response – what you want Judge Lucretia Clemons to hear. Please do not contact Judge Clemons directly. 

MORE DETAILS ON MUMIA’S CURRENT LEGAL SITUATION

On October 26, 2022, Judge Lucretia Clemons of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court adopted procedural arguments put forward by the Philadelphia District Attorney (DA) to deny Mumia Abu-Jamal relief. Judge Clemons noted in her preliminary denial that even if the jury knew that key prosecution witnesses were paid and promised favors to falsely testify against Mumia, they would still have imposed Mumia’s death sentence; thus making the revelations moot or “not material.” In a brilliant reply brief, Mumia’s lawyers have skillfully countered this misapplication of law and standards of review while again documenting the extreme racial bias and payments and favors promised by the DA to witnesses for their demonstrably false testimony against Mumia. Included in this dramatic just-revealed evidence is a note from a key witness asking the DA“for his money” after the trial. This letter was buried in District Attorney files for 38 yrs. 

Also prevented from being put in the record by multiple previous PCRA court rulings is documentation of additional extreme racial bias in Mumia’s original trial.  Previously Common Pleas Court Judge Pamela Dembe decided that the statement “I am going to help them fry the n—word” by trial court judge Albert F. Sabo was also “not material” – that upon her review she believed that even if he had made such a statement, they did not affect any of his rulings in the original trial.  Judge Sabo made that outrageous statement  in front of another PCRA judge and a court clerk in the first week of Mumia’s 1982 trial. Specially appointed and sitting in review of his own decisions, Albert Sabo, in a 1995 hearing, ignored the testimony from a witness in Mumia’s trial when she told the court that the DA had promised her a deal to falsely testify against Mumia.

This is one poignant quote from the message.

“When you are in a position to stop something wrong, you do it. 

“I think one of the most important things to focus on is truth and reconciliation. A familiar cry in the street during the social justice protests is ‘No justice, no peace.’ And while I know that many people want peace, they really want quiet. Quiet is not the same as peace. Peace requires justice, and justice requires truth.”
— Judge Clemons, from Healing the Wounds of Racism

Judge Clemons is a member of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s racial justice and healing commission. This video was her statement for the commission.  “The purpose of the commission,” Philadelphia Bishop McIntyre said, “is to look at the sin of racism in the light of the Gospel of our Catholic faith, and then see where we’ve succeeded in addressing it and moved forward, and where we haven’t, and where we need to move forward.”

On December 16, 2022, Judge Clemons of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court did NOT modify, reverse, or deny Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Post Conviction Relief Application (PCRA). She gave Mumia Abu-Jamal’s legal defense team notice that she would rule on her “Notice of Intent to Dismiss”  within the next 60-90 days, i.e. after February 15th 2023.

 

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