We continue to await a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia, concerning my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal. This complex case was orally argued before a three-judge panel on May 17, 2007, following extensive litigation which included voluminous briefing and motions. In my experience of successfully defending a large number of murder cases involving the death penalty, it was a great day.
It is impossible to know what the federal court ruling will be. If the judges follow the law and fairly apply the U.S. Constitution, we will win. As to when, long ago I projected a decision would be forthcoming this fall; it could come any day. One thing is certain: whomever loses will seek a rehearing and petition the U.S. Supreme Court.
I have previously described the different rulings that the federal court could make. Nevertheless some people have recently sent out e-mail containing false information. Contrary to their claim, the federal court cannot impose a sentence of “life in prison without parole”. Only a jury verdict could result in such an outcome, unless in the event of a penalty reversal the prosecution elected not to seek the death penalty. Likewise the court unfortunately cannot order that Mumia be released, for that would require a new guilt-phase jury trial and a favorable verdict which is certainly our goal. To once more clarify the legal situation, the scenarios of how the U.S. Court of Appeals might rule include:
- Grant an entirely new jury trial of the guilt phase;
- Order a new jury trial limited to the issue of life or death;
- Remand the case back to the U.S. District Court for further proceedings; or
- Deny all relief.
Racism, fraud, and politics are threads that have run through this case since Mumia’s 1981 arrest. The issues in this matter concern the right to a fair trial, the struggle against the death penalty, and the political repression of an outspoken journalist.
Mumia’s objective is a reversal of the murder conviction and death sentence, and the granting of an entirely new trial. At the end of that jury trial I expect to win and see my client freed so that he can finally go home to his family.
Thank you for your interest in this campaign for human rights.
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