‘Progressive DA’ Larry Krasner, you said you’d overturn wrongful convictions; what about Mumia?

by Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC)

Dear Friends and Comrades,

At this late date, given that Mumia’s next court hearing is on Oct. 29, two weeks away, many of us have felt that not enough attention has been paid to challenging Philadelphia’s widely hailed, new “liberal” District Attorney Larry Krasner. His deadly role in Mumia’s current legal proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas has not been understood by many Mumia supporters. People both in Philadelphia and around the country are still describing Krasner as a “breath of fresh air,” a major change agent in the criminal justice system, and a potentially fair DA in Mumia’s case.

Mumia Abu-Jamal

While we agree that Krasner has made some important positive moves on several issues, he has, like all the previous DAs, been adamant in his denial of justice to Mumia. It is, therefore, urgent that we publicize the situation with Krasner, and confront him with the fact that people are recognizing his deplorable role in the court process for Mumia.

We must pressure him to drop his opposition to Mumia’s current legal action aimed at giving Mumia new rights of appeal of his conviction. Needless to say, regardless of the outcome of this legal struggle, we will continue to assert Mumia’s innocence and fight for his freedom. For further clarification and details on this potentially confusing legal situation, read the attached background piece (addressed to International Friends of Mumia and posted following the letter to Krasner).

There are two attachments we are including. One is the background piece on what Krasner has done regarding Mumia’s current legal action. This will not be sent to Krasner. The second is the letter we hope to send Krasner with as many organizational signatures as possible.

We are focusing on organizations and some well-known individuals. We urge others who wish to, to send their own letter to Krasner. As a collective, we will only process organizational letters and a limited number of individual names to simplify the logistics involved.

Please be sure to get your organization’s signature back to us by Oct. 19 at the latest. Send it to infomumia@gmail.com. We plan to deliver the list of organizational signers along with the letter addressed to him to Krasner on the 25th at a press conference we will hold that day in Philadelphia.

Although we are only soliciting names of organizations for that particular letter, we are URGING INDIVIDUALS TO SEND THIS SAME LETTER OR THEIR OWN TO KRASNER DIRECTLY. HIS E-MAIL IS justice@philadelphia.gov. Let’s flood Krasner’s lines!

Signers – list is in formation; add your organization by writing to infomumia@gmail.com:

Pam Africa, Keith Cook (Mumia’s brother), Cornel West, Kathleen Cleaver, Basym Hasan, Glen Ford, Eli Domota (Guadeloupe), Mireille Fanon (France)

The Uncompromising International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, The Frantz Fanon Foundation, The MOVE Organization, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC), International Action Center, Mobilization 4 Mumia, Food Not Bombs Solidarity, Amig@s de Mumia de Mexico, Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, Colectif James Baldwin, Liberons Mumia, Comite Mumia de Saint-Denis, German FREE MUMIA Network, FREE MUMIA Berlin, LIBERONS MUMIA (French Collective), The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Oakland Teachers for Mumia, National Jericho Movement, NYC Jericho Movement, Northeast Political Prisoner Coalition

International Dockworkers Council, Union Generale des Travailleurs de la Guadeloupe, People’s Organization for Progress, CEMOTAP, KOMOKODA, Black is Back Coalition, Uhuru Solidarity Movement, Universal Zulu Nation, Guillermo Morales – Assata Shakur Community and Student Center, National Lawyers Guild (Minnesota), Alliance for Global Justice, SOS Racismo (Portugal), Freedom Archives, Communities United Against Police Brutality (Minneapolis), Bruxelles Pantheres (Belgium), Just Justice BKO (Mali), End Solitary Santa Cruz County (CA), International Labor Solidarity Committee of Doro-Chiba/Railway Workers Union in Chiba (Japan), The Hoshino Defense Committee (Japan)

Letter to District Attorney Larry Krasner

Dear District Attorney Larry Krasner,

Mumia’s supporters protest and keep watch outside the Criminal Justice Center during Mumia’s last court hearing, on April 30, 2018. It was during that hearing that DA Krasner first officially announced his opposition to Mumia’s new legal action. – Photo: Final Call

You were elected on your claims of being a “progressive DA” and that you would “end mass incarceration.” You stated that you would investigate and overturn wrongful convictions.

However, in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, you have to date shown yourself to be in tandem with the Fraternal Order of Police. This is despite the history of the evidence of Mumia’s innocence and the police, prosecution and judicial misconduct that permeates his case.

In a letter sent to you in January 2018, Pam Africa and international representatives of the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal requested a meeting to discuss his case with the objective of obtaining a dismissal of the charges against him and his release from prison. We also asked as a first step that you join in or at least not oppose Mumia’s pending petition for new appeals based on the precedent of Williams v. Pennsylvania.

Over the past months after first agreeing to that meeting, you then refused, but later met with Maureen Faulkner. Since April 30, you have submitted legal arguments to Judge Leon Tucker that deny the relevance of the evidence from prosecution files of Ronald Castille’s significant involvement in Mumia Abu-Jamal’s prosecution and death sentence.

You have called for Mumia’s petition to be dismissed. Documents show that DA Castille tracked the status of capital cases and that he sent a letter to former Gov. Casey that “urged” him to sign execution warrants to “send a message” to all “police killers.”

Ronald Castille’s very public and vociferous support of capital punishment and the Fraternal Order of Police combined with the evidence to date disclosed from the prosecution files meets the test of Williams v. Pennsylvania. Judge Castille should have recused himself from Mumia Abu-Jamal’s appeals. Since Castille refused to do that, Mumia Abu-Jamal should, at least, be granted new appeal rights.

So far, your handling of Mumia’s case has been very much in line with the wishes of the Fraternal Order of Police and you seem to show no interest in opening up a case that has been denounced around the world as reflecting the worst of a racist and classist judicial system that finds poor people, and especially people of color (and even more so dissenters) guilty and sentences them to the most extreme sentences: For Mumia, execution, up until 2011 when he was resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of ever getting out as he is not eligible for parole.

We call on you to release all the police and DA files relevant to Mumia’s case, to stop fighting to close this opening in the case by insisting that there is no evidence when that’s not the reality. The world is watching you out of its concern for Mumia and for justice.

Message to International Friends of Mumia

Dear International Friends of Mumia,

Protesting outside the April 30 court hearing are the People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey with New York Panthers Yasmine Sutton and Bullwhip. – Photo: Block Report Radio

Back almost a year ago, you signed an international letter directed to Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and the newly elected District Attorney of Philadelphia Larry Krasner. It called on them to free Mumia based on extensive evidence of his innocence and to release all the DA and police files relevant to his case.

There were over 400 signers, many of them organizations, especially with hundreds or thousands of members, and from dozens of countries across the globe. The letter was widely distributed and had the impact of demonstrating once again the enormous support Mumia continues to have not only in the US but also internationally.

The letter explained Mumia’s new legal action that, if won, would allow him to re-appeal the evidence of his innocence and all the issues of the denial of due process in his trial and the police, prosecutorial and judicial misconduct that led to his conviction.

We are now asking you to sign another letter to DA Krasner. On Oct. 29, 2018, Mumia’s case is back in court for the sixth time since Krasner has been the District Attorney in Mumia’s case.

DA Krasner first officially announced his opposition to Mumia’s new legal action in court on April 30. He submitted a formal legal brief on Aug. 30 stating that Mumia’s petition should be denied.

We are now asking you to sign another letter to DA Krasner. On Oct. 29, 2018, Mumia’s case is back in court for the sixth time since Krasner has been the District Attorney in Mumia’s case.

He is opposing additional rulings from the judge to continue to search prosecution files for additional documents. He is closing any opportunity to reopen the internationally denounced conviction of Mumia in 1982, and the subsequent equally outrageous appeals process which locked in the conviction.

The plea made by Maureen Faulkner, widow of the cop Mumia was wrongly convicted of killing, to Philly DA Larry Krasner: “Help keep cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal in jail.”

DA Krasner continues the policy of the former Philadelphia district attorneys in opposing every legal appeal made by Mumia, despite court precedents and clear evidence supporting Mumia’s appeal. He has met with Maureen Faulkner but refused to meet with Pam Africa, Keith Cook, Mumia’s elder brother, and international representatives.

In the current legal action, Mumia is challenging the judicial bias and conflict of interest of Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille, who was also the district attorney during the first direct appeals of his conviction and death sentence. The legal precedent on which Mumia’s challenge is based is a 2016 US Supreme Court ruling, Williams v. Pennsylvania.

In that case the U.S. Supreme Court held that it violated due process rights to a fair and impartial appeal for a judge to participate in an appeal if he was previously personally involved in that same case as a prosecutor. The judge in the Williams case was Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge Ronald Castille. He was also the prosecutor and then judge in Mumia’s case.

Ronald Castille was the district attorney responsible for making sure that Mumia’s conviction and death sentence were upheld. He was also personally involved in trying to get a warrant of execution signed against Mumia. Petitions made by Mumia that Castille recuse himself were rejected by Castille. With Castille’s participation, all of Mumia’s state court appeals of his conviction and death sentence from 1998-2012 were denied.

The clear evidence of Castille’s bias and conflict of interest in Mumia’s case was known at the time Mumia petitioned for Castille’s recusal. DA Krasner refuses to acknowledge the obvious: that there is significant material pointing to Castille’s involvement in Mumia’s case, that everyone in Philadelphia knew Castille to be an extreme supporter of the death penalty and a strong ally of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), qualities guaranteed to make him an enemy of Mumia.

Most significant for the issue before the court right now, there is evidence in the legal documents already reviewed that point to Castille’s significant role in Mumia’s case. Castille bragged that he was responsible for 45 people being placed on death row, and that he was a recipient of awards given by the FOP. In the Williams decision, the U.S. Supreme Court cited those facts.

There is also clear documentary evidence from the prosecution’s own files that prove the Williams case standard of involvement is applicable to Mumia’s case. This evidence was released to Mumia’s lawyers in October 2017, months before Krasner became the DA.

DA Krasner first officially announced his opposition to Mumia’s new legal action in court on April 30. He submitted a formal legal brief on Aug. 30 stating that Mumia’s petition should be denied.

At the time Castille was district attorney, the governor was Robert Casey, who was opposed to capital punishment. In the records released by the DA’s office during the current legal action is the June 15, 1990, letter from DA Castille to Gov. Casey.

Castille’s letter urged the governor to issue death warrants in Philadelphia capital cases where the appeals process was completed. DA Castille’s letter states: “I urge you to send a clear and dramatic message to all police killers that the death penalty actually means something. There were three “police killers” on PA’s death row at the time of this letter, Leslie Beasley, William Tilly and Mumia Abu-Jamal. This letter is unequivocal documentary proof under the Williams standard that Mumia’s Pennsylvania state court appeal denials should be vacated because of Judge Castille’s extreme bias and conflict of interest.

In the past months there has been more evidence. It has been established that Castille personally added that sentence on “police killers” to a draft of that letter. There is evidence of Castille tracking the status of Mumia’s case and communication between his office and a virulently pro-execution state legislator pushing for the death warrant.

DA Krasner argues, just like his predecessors, that despite the Supreme Court precedent and the facts and evidence in the record, Mumia’s petition should not be granted. Krasner denies the clear meaning of Castille’s public and virulent advocacy for executions of those convicted of homicide, especially “police killers”, of his support from and to the FOP, confirmed by the letter he sent to Gov. Casey. Despite this proof, Krasner states there is no evidence of DA Castille’s personal involvement as a prosecutor in Mumia’s case.

DA Krasner argues, just like his predecessors, that despite the Supreme Court precedent and the facts and evidence in the record, Mumia’s petition should not be granted.

In his campaign to be elected, DA Larry Krasner promised that he was going to be different, and that he would “end mass incarceration.” He has made some important reforms: ending cash bail in lesser criminal offenses, granting life-time parole rather than imprisonment for juvenile “lifers,” and considering serious criminal charges for police shootings of civilians. His office has likewise not opposed parole for Debbie, Janine and Janet Africa.

The reality, however, is that in Mumia’s case Krasner is following the script of the Fraternal Order of Police. A tell-tale warning of what was to come was Krasner’s appointment of Ronald Castille to his transition team.

This was despite Krasner knowing full well that Castille was not only known as pro-prosecution, pro death penalty, pro-cop and hostile to defense attorneys, but that Castille’s bias was the center of over 15 cases, including Mumia’s, that were then pending in court. In the Williams case, Castille was lambasted by the US Supreme Court for his overwhelming bias.

In appointing Castille, Krasner sent a signal to the FOP that not only was he willing to “rehabilitate” Castille but that he would not give an inch for Mumia.

Oct. 29 may be the last court date to impact DA Krasner’s position on Mumia’s pending legal case. We call on you to sign the attached letter. International awareness and pressure is urgently needed to move DA Krasner to end his opposition to Mumia’s pending legal action. Regardless, our fight for Mumia’s freedom will continue until he is free.

Oct. 29 may be the last court date to impact DA Krasner’s position on Mumia’s pending legal case. We call on you to sign the attached letter.

Contact the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC) at infomumia@gmail.com.