I’m writing this on Tuesday evening, January 19th, the day the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Mumia abu-Jamal that a lower court decision vacating his death sentence must be reconsidered by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals. While the decision is not a complete disaster, Mumia is one step closer tonight to having his death sentence reinstated. This evening I’ve also learned the results of the special election to fill Edward Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts.
Many of you may have seen the national press coverage of a recent Supreme Court decision in the case of Mumia abu-Jamal. As members of the RFC community you probably know I have been involved in the effort to save Mumia’s life since the mid 1990’s. I consider him the first political prisoner to face execution in the United States since my parents. I wrote about his case in my book, An Execution in the Family, starting on page 227.
During the mid-1970’s I traveled to Philadelphia while I was engaged full-time in the effort to reopen my parents’ case. A very young, African-American radio journalist interviewed and provided me a platform to discuss my parents’ frame-up. We agreed about so many things that the show became more of a discussion than an interview. At the end of the show he posed a question I had been asked many times before: if I thought a judicially sanctioned, politically motivated killing - like my parents’ execution - could happen again in this country.
On December 9th, Mumia Abu-Jamal, arguably the world’s most famous death row prisoner, will have been incarcerated for 30 years. As I’ve written here before, I’ve read the entire transcript of Mumia’s trial, and am convinced that it was unfair and that Mumia should be freed. I feel well qualified to make this determination because while serving two one-year judicial clerkships for the Justices of the Massachusetts Appeals Court it was my job to read trial transcripts and judge the fairness of those trials.