Timeline

FROM THEN TO NOW…. 
1981 - Former Black Panther activist and award winning journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal is found at the scene of the shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Mumia is wounded by shots from Faulkner’s gun. He is severely beaten by police at the scene of the crime and in the hospital.

1982 - Although he consistently maintains his innocence, Mumia Abu-Jamal is convicted of the Dec. 9, 1981, slaying of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death by Judge Albert Sabo. At the time of trial Sabo had presided over more death penalty cases than any judge in the history of Pennsylvania and led the nation in  such convictions.

1989 - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirms Abu-Jamal’s conviction and sentence.

1991 - The U.S. Supreme Court denies Mumia Abu-Jamal’s writ of certiorari, a petition to the higher court requesting a review of a lower courts decision.

1995 - Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge signs Mumia Abu-Jamal’s death warrant. Judge Sabo presides over a post conviction relief hearing to consider evidence of racial bias during the trial, lack of due process and new statements from witnesses who say they were coerced into lying by police. Sabo denies all.
1995 - Mumia Abu-Jamal’s book, “Live From Death Row,” helps attract supporters around the world. 1998 - The state Supreme Court rejects latest defense appeal.

1999 - The U.S. Supreme Court declines to review his appeal.

2000 - Amnesty International calls for a new trial. Some 6,000 people cram Madison Square Garden in Manhattan to show their support for Abu-Jamal, while off-duty New York police officers hold a counter rally.

2000 - Mumia Abu-Jamal appeals for relief from his conviction and death sentence. U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr. presides.

2001 - Mumia Abu-Jamal fires lead attorney Leonard Weinglass and his legal team after team member Dan Williams publishes an expose on the case, Executing Justice: An Inside Account of the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal (St. Martin’s Press).

2001 - Mumia Abu-Jamal’s new legal team of Eliot Grossman and Marlene Kamish file affidavits and request for testimony to be heard by a man named Arnold beverly who claimed that he, not Mumia, shot Officer Faulkner. They also present testimony from official court stenographer Terri Maurer Carter, who says she overheard Judge Sabo say privately, “I’m going to help fry that nigger.”

2001 - Judge William H. Yohn Jr. refuses to overturn conviction, but awards new sentencing hearing based on flawed jury instructions. The claim of racial bias is not granted, but is affirmed and certified as “appealable”, which allows it to be considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

2002 - Philadelphia Court of Common Judge Pamela P. Dembe denies Kamish and Grossman’s petition Pleas to have the Beverly, Maurer-Carter, and other affidavits considered.

Mumia’s lawyers appeal Judge Dembe’s decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.Pennsylvania Supreme Court denies latest appeal.

2002 - U.S. Court of Appeals – 3rd Circuit Mumia appeals, contesting Judge Yohn’s affirmation of his conviction. Prosecutors also appeal, contesting Yohn’s voiding of the death sentence.

2003 - Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution – Waynesburg Attorney Robert Bryan assumes responsibility for Mumia’s federal court proceedings.

 2003 - Kamish and Grossman retire as Mumia’s lead attorneys; Bryan assumes lead role in Pennsylvania courts proceedings, too. He files a petition, again before Judge Dembe, making two claims: (1) that Cynthia White who testified against Mumia at the 1982 did so as a result of a range of police pressures, and (2) that Priscilla Durham, a hospital guard lied when she testified to having heard Mumia boast about shooting Faulkner.

2005 - Judge Pamela P. Dembe denies Mumia’s requests to consider claims about Cynthia White’s experience of police pressure and Priscilla Durham’s alleged lying. Mumia’s lawyers appeal.

 2005 - U.S. Court of Appeals – 3rd Circuit Announces that it will hear arguments on four issues:

• Sentencing: whether the jury verdict form had been flawed and the judge’s instructions to the jury had been confusing.

• Conviction and sentencing: whether racial bias in jury selection existed to an extent tending to produce an inherently biased jury and therefore an unfair trial (commonly referred to as “the Batsonclaim,” after the case that redresses this issue most directly).

• Conviction: whether the prosecutor improperly attempted to reduce jurors’ sense of responsibility by telling them that a guilty verdict would be subsequently vetted and subject to repeated appeals.

• Post-conviction review hearings, 1995-1996: whether the presiding judge, who had also presided at the trial, demonstrated unacceptable bias in his conduct.

 2007 - U.S. Court of Appeals – 3rd Circuit hears arguments by Mumia’s lawyers and prosecutors in Philadelphia.

2008 - Pennsylvania Supreme Court Denies Mumia’s appeal of the decision of Judge Dembe against him in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

2008 - U.S. Court of Appeals – A three-judge panel issues a 2-1 opinion upholding Judge Yohn’s 2001 opinion but rejecting the racial bias and Batson claims that would produce a new trial. One dissenting judge, Thomas Ambro, issued a 41-page dissent, arguing for Mumia’s Batson claim, saying that “excluding even a single person from a jury because of race violated the Equal Protection Clause of our Constitution. . . I see no reason why we should not afford Mr. Abu-Jamal the courtesy of our precedents.”

 2008 - U.S. Court of Appeals – 3rd Circuit Rejects petition from Mumia to reconsider the above decision.

2008 - Mumia’s attorneys and prosecuting attorneys petition 3rd Circuit decision.

2009 - U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to hear Mumia’s petition of 3rd Circuit decision. Prosecutors’ petition of the 3rd Circuit’s upholding of Judge Yohn’s voiding of the death sentence is still left pending on the docket.

2009 - Mumia’s attorneys file a post-conviction petition based upon a new National Academy of Sciences Report that contained research findings concerning the unreliability of some of the ballistics evidence offered at Mumia’s trial. Judge Dembe denies the petition without a hearing.

2010 - U.S. Supreme Court rules, in Smith v. Spisak, on matters relating to how a jury is to be instructed to deliberate. Whether and how this ruling against Spisak’s use of the Mills protection against improper juror instruction in the penalty phase might be relevant to Mumia’s case remains unclear. But Smith v. Spisak ruling put Spisak back on death row. A ruling on Mumia’s case could also have a similar negative outcome.

2010 U.S. Supreme Court Vacates Judge Yohn’s rescinding of Mumia’s death penalty, remands to the 3rd Circuit to review Mumia’s Mills claim in light of new Smith v. Spisak ruling. Whether the 3rd Circuit can now re- open other claims, by Mumia or by prosecutors remains unclear. Also, briefs have now been filed by both Mumia’s attorneys and the prosecutors, regarding the remand of the U.S. Supreme Court to the 3rd Circuit.

2011 - 3rd U.S. Circuit again grants new death-sentence hearing.

2012 - Pennsylvania Supreme Court denies Mumia’s petition.

 

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