*** ACLU Foundation of
Robert Owen, Professor, University of Texas Law School, will be presenting on Capital Punishment and the Right to Counsel. Lunch will begin at 12:00 p.m. and the presentation is 12:30-1:30 p.m. in downtown
You will find the calendar for the 2007 CLE Program below. It is also available on line at http://www.aclutx.org/projects/cleprogram.php . We hope to see you at this event!
Each month an expert on constitutional and civil rights/civil liberties law will offer a CLE presentation on an issue of importance to the local legal community
March 22, 2007
Re: Mumia Abu-Jamal v. Martin Horn, Pennsylvania Director of Corrections
U.S. Court of Appeals Nos. 0 1-90 14,02-900 1 (death penalty)
Today notification was received that oral argument in the case of my client,
Mumia Abu-Jamal, is scheduled on Thursday, May 17, 9:30 am, in the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Ceremonial Courtroom, 1″ Floor, U.S.
Courthouse, 6″‘ and Market Streets, Philadelphia. The NAACP Legal Defense
and Educational Fund, Inc., and the National Lawyers Guild, which have filed
amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs, are also participating.
This case concerns Mr. Abu-Jamal’s right to a fair trial, the struggle
against the death penalty, and the political repression of an outspoken
journalist. Racism and politics are threads that have run through this case
since his 1981 arrest. The complex issues under consideration, which are of
great constitutional significance, include:
Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied the right to due process of law and a fair
trial under the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments because of the
prosecutor’s “appeal-after-appeal” argument which encouraged the jury to
disregard the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt, and err on the
side of guilt.
Whether the prosecution’s use of peremptory challenges to exclude African
Americans from sitting on the jury violated Mr. Abu-Jamal’s rights to due
process and equal protection of the law under the Sixth and Fourteenth
Amendments, and contravened Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).
Whether the jury instructions and verdict form that resulted in the death
penalty deprived Mr. Abu- Jamal of rights guaranteed by the Eight and
Fourteenth Amendments to due process of law, equal protection of the law,
and not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and violated Mills
v. Maryland, 486 U.S. 367 (1988), since the judge precluded the jurors from
considering any mitigating evidence unless they all agreed on the existence
of a particular circumstance.
Whether Mr. Abu-Jamal was denied due process and equal protection of the law
under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments during post-conviction hearings as
the result of the bias and racism of Judge Albert F. Sabo which included the
comment that he was “going to help’em fry the ni – – er”.
Recently the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office sent a letter to the
court suggesting that the entire Third Circuit should disqualify itself from
deciding the case of my client. We filed a reply strongly objecting to this
absurd request, explaining that the position of opposing counsel was
“utterly unfounded and should be rejected.” On March 10 the court rebuked
the prosecution, advising that it had failed to follow proper procedure and
thus no action would be taken.
Professor Judith L. Ritter, associate counsel, and I are in this case to win
a new and fair trial for Mr. Abu-Jamal. The goal is for our client to be
free. Nevertheless, he remains in great danger. If all is lost, he will be
executed. Your interest in this struggle for human rights and against the
death penalty is appreciated.
Yours very truly,
Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal