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  Mumia Abu-Jamal Hearings before Judge Albert Sabo
Report from Jamila Levi, Western PA Committee to Free Mumia, Pittsburgh 412-361-2889; Information contact International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, 215-476-8812

Monday, August 14, 1995

Sabo read into the record from the editorial that appeared over the weekend in the Philadelphia Inquirer, calling himself a "victim." (The editorial called Sabo "his own worst enemy" but went on to characterize Weinglass as "an attorney with a long career of baiting judges in trials he has orchestrated into a Cause Celebes,") He denied a hearing about the $ 1000 fine levied on Weinglass August 11. Sabo refused to allow a subpoena to be issued on Robert Chobert, the cab driver who had thrown a Molotov cocktail into a school yard for pay, ("You can't subpoena him, you have no affidavit.")

The prosecution then called Officer Vernon Jones, who wore dark shades throughout his testimony (as did a previous prosecution witness). Jones testified that he saw Singletary at the scene and verified a statement he allegedly gave 12/17/81. On cross examination, he admitted that he had no independent recollection of the typed, unsigned statement nor of signing in the logbook that night. A request for discovery of the logbook was denied. Although Jones could not recall the statement, he did say he clearly remembered Cynthia White.

Next prosecution witness was Detective Quinn, whose signature appeared on the coerced statement given by Singletary (although according to Singletaty he gave the statement to another detective). The time of the interview was not recorded, although according to the statement Singletary had seen other individuals there, Quinn had not asked for their descriptions. Weinglass asked Quinn if he understood that if he admitted to tearing up the handwritten statement of a witness, it could put his entire career in jeopardy, the detective answered affirmatively, The prosecution objected, however, when Quinn was asked if he was a member of the FOP, Sabo: "I can assume that he is, he's a police officer,"

Weinglass, during the lunch break, when asked if he paid the fine: "Best $1000, I ever spent. We raised $3000 over the weekend, I must give credit where credit is due; Judge Sabo has become one of our principle fund-raisers," Weinglass explained that he wanted to call Robert Chobert because Chobert was promised a deal by DA McGill, He initially gave both oral and written statements that the shooter ran away, but retracted that at trial. Information about the deal was suppressed from the defense (in 1982).

After lunch Sabo refused to enter into the record newspaper articles dealing with community support, although he had read the editorial into the record. He also refused to schedule time for Robert Harkins to be brought in as a defense witness. Sabo set September 11, for final arguments, saying that the transcripts would be available for purchase. Regarding calling other witnesses, such as Harkins, Sabo said, "Let's get together informally to decide when to call him." He gave permission to subpoena Chobert for the next day.

August 15

Robert Chobert was brought to court by detectives, and testified that his drivers license had been suspended and he was driving a cab without a license on 12/9/81. DA McGill told him he would "look into" getting his license back. He had been a school bus driver and the license was therefore essential to his livelihood, He testified that he was put up in a hotel for a week during the trial, and escorted to and from work by police. He never did get his license back. Weinglass pointed out that the witness was never fined or arrested for driving the cab without a license. Chobert became hostile, saying "What's the difference! I'm not on trial, buddy."

After the witness was excused, Ass't. DA Fisk said she "assumed" the defense was resting its case. Weinglass denied that, relating how he and Attorney Dan Williams had gone to the roundhouse that morning to talk with Robert Harkins, who was in an interrogation room with Detective Walsh. He reported that Harkins seemed very frightened" and said he wouldn't talk (to the defense). Walsh slammed the door on them. Weinglass described the intimidating atmosphere in the interrogation area and requested that the witness be allowed to talk with him without the detectives present, if he was willing. Sabo denied there was intimidation, saying, "You do that for the media - but not in here now!"

The persecution called Detective Walsh, who testified that Harkins was brought in to homicide that morning and that he refused to talk to Weinglass. A discrepancy arose concerning the actual time Harkins was brought in The court squelched most of the cross-examination.

Again, Fisk said she assumed the defense was resting. Weinglass stated that the defense had learned of another witness and gone to his home, only to find out he would be gone until September 1st. Sabo; "If you can't get him before then, too bad." Weinglass: "Other people are coming not only to the DA's office, but to our office..." Sabo: "I can't wait until Christmas... for the time being, you're resting!"

Rachel Wolkenstein informed the court that requested photographs were reproduced by the Philadelphia Police Dept. and submitted to the defense, with a bill for $972. She called the bill "outrageous... extortion!" She then attempted to enter into the record information from the discovery obtained in the civil suit filed in federal court regarding mail from the attorneys that was illegally seized by the Dept. of Corrections. Sabo objected: "It has nothing to do with this! Take it up with the federal court! He threatened contempt, jail and a $1000 fine, got up and walked out.

Court criers began yelling at Mumia supporters to leave the courtroom immediately as Mumia was shackled and led away. Meanwhile, the cops on the other side of the room, many wearing T-shirts calling for Mumia's execution, many others carrying guns, were not being told to leave. Mumia's supporters left the courtroom angrily chanting "No justice, no peace!" only to be descended upon by sensationalist media demanding to know, "What do you mean by no peace?" The Faulkner family was led away as police formed a well-armed barricade.

Weinglass: "The judge quashed more than 2/3 of our witnesses. But we showed that the first trial was ineffective. We've met all the requirements for a new trial."

Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday, Sept. 11 in Sabo's court. Meanwhile, a hearing in the civil suit is to begin Sept. 5 in federal court in Pittsburgh.

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