Prison Radio recorded attorney Rachel Wolkenstein, Pam Africa, Ramona Africa and Linn Washington outside of the Criminal Court at 13th and Filbert in Philadelphia minutes after the filing of Mumia Abu-Jamal's pro se objection to his sentence of life in prison. Mumia also comments on the filing.
Audio link for mp3 downloads here:
In 2001 the Federal Courts set aside Mumia Abu-Jamal's death sentence. Just last December, after ten years of bitter and protracted appeals, the District Attorney of Philadelphia (Seth Williams) publicly announced that he would not hold a penalty phase hearing, and pursue the imposition of a death sentence. Williams conceded that legally and politically the District Attorney’s office would not succeed getting a Philadelphia jury to vote for death in this case.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was then summarily moved by the Department of Corrections off of death row at SCI Greene (he had been in solitary confinement on death row for nearly 30years) and into a minimum security prison at SCI Mahanoy. His corporal status remained in limbo, and for the past 9 months he had no formal sentence.
On Monday August 13th, in a highly irregular action, Common Pleas Court President Judge Pamela Dembe without notice issued an order sentencing Mumia Abu-Jamal to life in prison without parole. There was no notice given to any party prior to the order. There was no notice of the order after its execution until, eight days after this irregularity was uncovered. In another oddity, the order was issued under the name Wesley Cook, without reference to his legal name (Mumia Abu-Jamal) the name under which his court records have been filed for thirty years. At the direction of Rachel Wolkenstein, an investigator with the Pittsburgh based Human Rights Coalition Bret Grote was checking the court docket, and noticed the order.
Mumia as soon as he became aware of this action (as he had no formal notice from the court) filed a pro se challenge to this imposition of a sentence by the court. This motion challenging his sentence was delivered to the court by attorney Rachel Wolkenstein, who had received it from Mumia that morning, and it was filed within minutes of the statutory deadline required to challenge the order.
Mumia Abu-Jamal’s pro se petition challenges the order on both procedural and constitutional grounds. The imposition of life imprisonment violates cruel and unusual punishment and violates international standards on torture. In addition, his petition states that his three decades of imprisonment are a result of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct, as he is innocent.
Read the article by Linn Washington here: