There are many developments on the legal and other fronts concerning my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal. We remain in active litigation before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and also have issues pending in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Mumia has been honored by fellow writers through acceptance into a prestigious organization, a Nobel Prize winner recently visited him, an excellent new book was released in France, a leading British newspaper has published a major article on Mumia, and a superb film recently premiered in London and Rome. The following are the highlights.
PEN membership Mumia has been accepted into the membership of PEN, the worldwide human-rights organization of prominent writers. This is a great honor. He was thrilled upon learning that the application I filed on his behalf last spring was granted. In two decades of knowing each other, I have not seen Mumia so happy. The recognition from his peers is well deserved.
In a quarter of a century of being locked up in a small cell on Pennsylvania's death row, Mumia's literary output has been prodigious. He has written five outstanding books that are published in various languages, and also writes weekly commentaries that are published and broadcast internationally.
PEN was founded in 1921 to dispel national, ethnic, and racial hatred, to promote understanding among all countries, and defend the freedom to write. PEN American Center, into which Mumia has been accepted, is the largest of the 145 centers in 104 countries of International PEN. It exists to fight for freedom of expression, represent the conscience of world literature, and foster friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere. It is the world's oldest human rights organization and also the oldest international literary group.
The support provided by Alice Walker, E.L. Doctorow, Bell Chevigny and other members of the PEN American Center, New York, was invaluable. I am especially grateful to the kindness of Salman Rushdie, former President of PEN. Throughout the application process, I was impressed by the paramount concern of the PEN membership for human rights and protecting the independence of writers.
Bishop Desmond Tutu On October 23, 2007, Bishop Desmond Tutu met with Mumia. It is was a moving experience. Later that afternoon Mumia expressed to me how touched and humbled he was by meeting with this wonderful person, who received the Nobel Peace Price in 1984 and the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986. Mumia is particularly grateful to Martha Conley, Esq., of Pittsburgh, who initiated and arranged the visit, drove Bishop Tutu and his assistant to the prison, and joined them in the visit on death row. Last week Bishop Tutu issued the following statement concerning Mumia and capital punishment:
"I oppose the death penalty on principle in every case and I support the plea for a retrial for Mumia Abu-Jamal."
The Most Reverend Desmond M. Tutu, O.M.S.G., D.D., F.K.C.
Anglican Archbishop Emeritus
Cape Town, South Africa
5 November 2007
Legal developments Last month the prosecution submitted a Notice of Supplemental Authority with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia, arguing that a recent ruling and related decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court affects the pending issues pertaining to the death penalty and racism in jury selection. Consequently on November 1, 2007, we filed a Reply To Notice of Supplemental Authority, explaining with legal analysis that the contentions of opposing counsel should be rejected because they are without merit and do not alter the major constitutional violations that occurred in this case.
I remain in contact with the court. It is not known exactly when there will be a federal decision. If the court follows the law and the U.S. Constitution, we will win. In my experience of successfully litigating well over a hundred capital murder cases at trial and on appeal, I know that courts are not always just. They can make terribly tragic mistakes. Nevertheless, I have not seen a case more riddled with such significant constitutional violations, racism, fraud, and unfairness. My goal remains to achieve a reversal of the conviction, and at a new jury trial win a jury acquittal so that Mumia can go home to his family -- a free person.
In Prison My Whole Life, British film on Mumia On October 25, 2007, the new documentary film In Prison My Whole Life premiered simultaneously at the London Film Festival and Rome Film Festival. It is a superb movie which does much to expose the many wrongs including racism and politics that have infected the case from the outset, the American legal system, and our society. Amnesty International is officially supporting the film. The picture is hard hitting and reveals the death penalty for what it is: legalized murder. Mumia and I are indebted to Colin and Livia Giuggioli Firth, along with Marc Evans, William Francome, Nick Goodwin Self, Katie Green, and the others who had the courage to make this film and tell the truth.
New French book on Mumia In September an excellent book on Mumia was published on September 15, 2007, in France. It is Mumia Abu-Jamal un homme libre dans le couloir de la mort, by Claude Guillaumaud-Pujol, with a foreword by Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Founder, Rosenberg Fund for Children. Claude is deeply involved in the Collectif, a group of over 80 French organizations that aggressively support our campaign for a new and fair trial for Mumia and his freedom. She knows Mumia well, and last visited with him on November 11. Claude has donated her book to help in the struggle for Mumia's freedom. Mumia says "the book is beautiful." It can be purchased though various booksellers in France.
Guardian (England) article: "I Spend My Days Preparing for Life, Not for Death" Recently there was an excellent article in the Guardian newspaper. It concerns a fascinating death row interview with Mumia, and can be found at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,2198415,00.html
Tax-Deductible Donations to Mumia's Legal Defense My office continues to receive extensive e-mail from people confused as to how and where they may send donations for Mumia's legal defense. With Mumia's authorization, a process exists which guarantees that all donations in the U.S. go only to the legal defense. The contributions are tax-deductible. Checks should be made payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation (indicate "Mumia" on the bottom left), and mailed to:
Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 2012
New York, NY 10159-2012
Your interest is appreciated.
With best wishes,
Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
NOTE: To support the organizing efforts, send contributions to:
International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Make these checks payable to National Black United Fund.
Indicate Mumia/Organizing in the memo field of the check.