Justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal
United States Supreme Court
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Chief Justice John Roberts,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
David Hackett Souter,
John Paul Stevens,
Before you is the notorious case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, which is a difficult matter to deal with, a matter concerning fundamental fairness, as we are well aware.
But then - it offers the possibility to show some light at the end of the dark tunnel of racism that has been tainting Americas reputation in the world for a long time now.
We wont go into all the contentious details of the case here.
To us, one thing is obvious: racism is the thread that runs through this case like a mismatching color in a fabric.
The blatant racism affronting Americas oft-stated core values of fairness and justice in this case has attracted widespread attention, including that of Amnesty International, which in 2000 dedicated a long report to this case, calling for a new trial, which it continues to do to this day.
The constitutionally guaranteed bedrock of a fair trial is a jury selected without bias, including racial bias. Undisputedly, the original trial started with only 3 and ended with 2 out of 12 jurors being African-Americans - in a city with then close to 40 percent Blacks. Prosecutor Joseph McGill used 10 of 15 peremptory strikes against blacks. This particular prosecutors strike pattern reflects impermissible race-based exclusions practiced by Philadelphia prosecutors during that era.
The racially loaded atmosphere at the time of Mr. Abu-Jamals trial in 1982 is sadly illustrated by the fact that later, an Assistant District Attorney for Philadelphia produced a training video for the citys prosecutors about how to evade orders of this Court prohibiting prejudicial jury selection. Explicitly referring to the practices he recommends as the wisdom of the ages and the long-standing custom of the citys prosecutors, you can watch him say:
"Let's face it, the blacks from the low-income areas are less likely to convict. There's a resentment to law enforcement... You don't want those guys on your jury...
If you get a white teacher in a black school who's sick of these guys, that may be the one to accept."
The courts of a country that is rightly proud of its unique Constitution granting equal rights for all should be able do a lot better.
Whether or not Mr. Abu-Jamal is guilty or innocent is not the issue here.
The issue is a fair trial - a constitutional right denied this defendant during the last 27 years.
Right now and before your Court, Mr. Abu-Jamal isnt even asking for a new trial. He is only asking that his well documented claim of racial bias during the original trial be fully and fairly heard and that your Court order appropriate consequences.
With all due respect and urgency we ask you to use your power as the Supreme Court of the United States to grant him all the legal procedures necessary to finally provide him justice.
One core factual source among many for the above is:
www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/001/2000 (A Life in the Balance - the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, report by Amnesty International)