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By Jerry Gordon, Secretary,
January 12 International delegation
Document in german

There has been a major development on the legal front in the fight to save the life of Mumia Abu-Jamal. I say this based on a conversation I had on January 19, 2000 with Leonard Weinglass, chief attorney for Abu-Jamal.

Here is the situation. Under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, enacted by Congress with Clinton's aggressive backing in 1996, federal judges are required to accord a presumption of correctness to the factual findings of state judges.

Here's an example of how that was working in Mumia's case. As we know, witnesses who testified against him at the trial at which he was convicted came forward later and recanted their testimony.

They testified before Judge Albert Sabo, who presided over the original trial, in a hearing on a motion for a new trial that they had been intimidated and threatened by police into giving false testimony against Abu-Jamal. Judge Sabo, in a finding of fact, decided these witnesses at the hearing on the motion for a new trial were not credible. In the federal proceeding, on the petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys argued that the federal judge, WilliamYonge, was bound by that finding, as well as by the other Sabo findings of fact.

Until Friday, January 14, the federal judge agreed, meaning he would not review the entire record of the case.

Suddenly, this situation changed dramatically. On Thursday, January 13, Weinglass, while in New York, was summoned by the judge to appear at a hearing in Philadelphia the following morning.

This hearing took place in chambers. The judge informed attorneys on both sides that he will now accept papers and hear arguments challenging the correctness of Sabo's findings of fact.

This means he will review the entire record of the case, something that Abu-Jamal's attorneys had been arguing from the beginning that he should do (which he can do since presumptions in the law can be overcome with strong evidence).

This is a major breakthrough in the case!

The timing of all this is striking.

On Wednesday, January 12, the International Delegation met with three Deputy Assistant Attorneys General at the Justice Department. On Thursday, January 13, an article about the International Delegation appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News. On that same day, the federal judge called Weinglass and directed him to appear in court the following day.

The legal breakthrough that has been won should give all supporters of the struggle greater hope that the ultimate victory can be won and that Mumia Abu-Jamal will be freed.

By Jerry Gordon, Secretary,
January 12 International delegation

document in german

Siehe auch:
Update zur juristischen Situation (27.1.2000) (Anmerkungen zu den international kursierenden Gerüchten über einen "juristischen Durchbruch" in Mumias Fall und zur aktuellen juristischen Situation)

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