An appeals court has granted Mumia Abu Jamal a new sentencing hearing in the death row political prisoner’s ongoing legal battle. The decision represents the second time the appeals court has rendered such a judgment.
Jamal was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1982.
In its new decision made on April 26, the appeals court ruled that either the hearing be held within three months or Jamal’s sentence be changed from death to a life sentence.
The basis of the U.S. appeals court decision is that the jury was given improper sentencing instructions in the trial and did not consider mitigating circumstances.
Philadelphia’s district attorney Seth Williams has promised to again take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
However, it will be some time before the case is settled. The philly.com writes: “So intricate is the legal wrangling that any final resolution is likely years away.”
Prior to the ruling district attorney Williams “had appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court handed the case back to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which once again ruled Abu-Jamal deserves a new sentencing hearing,” writes newsworks.org.
“Constitutional issues are involved,” Abu-Jamal’s attorney, Judith Ritter, said, “Four federal judges have now ruled that the sentencing phase of the trial was unconstitutional.”
Mumia Abu Jamal is an ex-Black Panther and has written several books and articles. He has repeatedly said his innocent. His case has gained wide support in the U.S. and worldwide.
Photo: Widener University law professor Judith L. Ritter, attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal, speaking to the press outside the US Courthouse in Philadelphia, Nov. 9, 2010, when a federal appeals court heard arguments concerning the sentence of Abu-Jamal. (Matt Rourke/AP)