Emergency financial appeal for Mumia


by Johanna Fernandez

Dear friends of Mumia,

Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 1859887, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591, Amarillo TX 79107

I’m writing on behalf of the Committee to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal to ask if you might help us in an emergency. The Committee is the official fundraising venue for Mumia’s legal defense today. It has been raising funds, quietly, since Mumia was facing execution in the ‘90s.

The Committee was initiated and led by Frances Goldin, Mumia’s literary agent. She is 93 years old today and continues to be actively involved in this work. Our letters are reviewed and signed by Angela Davis. Our efforts focus exclusively on Mumia’s legal defense, and on the few occasions when we’ve deemed that raising funds for other projects was critical to Mumia’s safety, our letters have explicitly outlined our thinking.

Since Mumia fell ill, we have been behind on payments to Mumia’s lead health attorney and we need to raise funds – quickly. Would you consider making a donation and identifying one or two others who might do the same?

A word on Mumia’s condition

Although the symptoms of his Hep C condition wax and wane, he is much improved since his near death crisis two years ago. That moment was harrowing, and having been in the center of it, I can truly tell you that the movement saved his life.

Heidi Beghosian, former executive director, National Lawyers Guild, and I had been concerned about Mumia’s declining health two years ago, and we happened to visit Mumia the morning that he collapsed in the infirmary. At that moment, we called his family, identified the hospital to which he had been taken, then drove there to make our presence known.

Since Mumia fell ill, we have been behind on payments to Mumia’s lead health attorney and we need to raise funds – quickly. Would you consider making a donation and identifying one or two others who might do the same?

We alerted the movement, and dozens joined us at the hospital that evening. The next day we held a press conference at the hospital to which surprisingly the Philadelphia mainstream media showed up. The conditions under which Mumia was hospitalized were horrendous and we visited the hospital daily.

After these dramatic days, when we realized that Mumia was in danger of dying, we went into emergency mode for several months. This included identifying outside doctors to visit him, taking out an ad in the New York Times, mobilizing the movement and testifying in court about what we saw.

We even took Mumia’s hair sample covertly to be tested at an outside laboratory. It was our doctor, not the hospital physicians, who in the end diagnosed Mumia with Hep C and made the connection that his terrible skin condition was a symptom of that disease. In this moment of crisis, Pam Africa’s experience was indispensable.

The legal situation and our request for funds

This joyful celebration, on Feb. 7, 2012, happened only days after Mumia was released from death row, where he’d been held in solitary confinement for 30 years. The visitors are Johanna Fernandez, left, and Heidi Boghosian, right.

As you know, his attorneys, primarily Bob Boyle, scored an unprecedented legal victory in Mumia’s Hep C health suit. On Jan. 7, a federal judge, Robert Mariani, in an unprecedented decision, ordered that Mumia be treated with the 95 percent effective cure rate antiviral medicines within 21 days. He condemned the barbarity of the DOC’s (Department of Corrections’) Hep C protocol, and his opinion establishes the groundwork for the treatment of the 7,000 others with Hep C in the Pennsylvania prisons.

The Pennsylvania DOC is fighting this all the way to hell. On the 10th day after the ruling, right before the Martin Luther King holiday, the DOC attorneys filed a stay and a notice of appeal in the 3rd Circuit District Court of Appeals.

Our legal filings are voluminous. Bob Boyle has been working for two years at reduced legal fees, and we are behind on payments. We’ve also put in some personal funds, and are sending out another appeal to our members, but we need an infusion of $25,000 in the next week.

His attorneys, primarily Bob Boyle, scored an unprecedented legal victory in Mumia’s Hep C health suit. The Pennsylvania DOC is fighting this all the way to hell.

Thanking you in advance for your consideration.

All the best,

Johanna Fernandez, Ph.D.

Johanna Fernandez, Ph.D., is a professor of history at Baruch College (CUNY,) coordinator of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, member of the Committee to Save Mumia Abu Jamal, and writer and producer of the acclaimed film, “Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.” She can be reached at jfernandez1202@gmail.com.

Legal particulars

Federal Judge Robert Mariani presided over Mumia’s health suit. Judge Mariani granted Mumia his claim of deliberate indifference, meaning that Mumia won the preliminary injunction for immediate treatment. The judge ordered that a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) doctor must see Mumia within 14 days of his Jan. 7 ruling and instructed that treatment begin seven days after that – in other words, within 21 days of the ruling.

But on the 10th day after the ruling, right before the Martin Luther King holiday, the DOC lawyers filed a challenge to the judge’s ruling. They filed “a stay,” which essentially asked the judge to halt all legal actions and proceedings. The DOC attorneys also filed a separate notice of appeal that made known their intention to appeal the decision in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the court immediately below the Supreme Court.

The mood had changed to anxiety on April 6, 2015, when Abdul Jon, Pam Africa and Johanna Fernandez were the visitors, just days after Mumia had suddenly fallen unconscious in diabetic shock on March 30, 2015. On this day, a week later, he still could barely stand.

Here are the different scenarios that can emerge.

If Judge Mariani denies the stay and upholds his original decision, the DOC can seek a stay from the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. This would happen in advance and separately from the DOC’s full appeal in that court. If the 3rd Circuit grants the stay, the appeal process could take two to three months, even if “expedited.” If the 3rd Circuit denies the DOC’s request for a stay, Mumia basically wins because it would mean that the injunction must be carried out, meaning that MAJ gets the drugs.

If Judge Mariani grants the DOC’s request for a stay, Mumia’s attorneys can ask the 3rd Circuit to vacate (overturn) the stay; however, it would be unlikely that the 3rd Circuit would do so since they would take Judge Mariani granting the stay as an indicator that he feels his ruling would not withstand an appeal. We then would have to litigate the appeal in the 3rd Circuit Court, again a two to three month process.

Profile of the attorneys litigating Mumia’s health suit

Bret Grote is a young attorney and the founder of the Abolitionist Law Center in Pittsburgh. He was the only lawyer willing to file a preliminary injunction to get Mumia immediate treatment after he fell ill. All the attorneys with whom we consulted argued that the case was impossible to litigate and win. Shortly after Bret Grote filed the motion, the movement recruited Bob Boyle to join Bret Grote.

Bob Boyle is one of the most noted and accomplished attorneys representing political prisoners today. He is comparable to Len Weinglass in his political analysis of these cases. Bob Boyle

  • litigated the Lynne Stewart case, which led to her compassionate release;
  • litigated the case of Black Panther Dhoruba Bin Wahad and secured his freedom;
  • secured the release of Black Panther Marshall Eddie Conway, who spent close to 43 years in prison;
  • overturned in appellate court the 75-year sentence of Mohammed Al-Moayad, who was convicted of providing material support to Hamas.

How to donate

Please mail your tax-deductible check payable to National Lawyers Guild. On the memo line, be sure to write: “For Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Defense.” Mail your check directly to Johanna Fernandez, 158-18 Riverside Drive W., Apt. 6C-50, New York, New York 10032.

To donate online, go to Donate to Committee To Save Mumia Abu Jamal.

Please forward this email far and wide and let’s make the raising of $25,000 a reality.


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