A federal judge has denied a request by lawyers for convicted police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal to suspend the federal appeal of his conviction and death sentence while they try to reopen his appeals in the Pennsylvania courts.
U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr., in an order last week, denied the July request by Abu-Jamal's lawyers to suspend his two-year-old federal appeal proceedings while they try to reopen his state post-conviction appeals on the grounds that his original legal team misrepresented him because of conflicts of interest. A corresponding motion to open Abu-Jamal's state court appeal is pending before Common Pleas Court Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe.
Abu-Jamal, a former radio commentator and black activist, was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the Dec. 9, 1981, shooting of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner during an early-morning car stop by Faulkner of Abu-Jamal's brother. Earlier this year Abu-Jamal's new lawyers released a purported confession to the shooting by another man, a self-described hit man. Abu-Jamal's federal appeal is the first stage of his third and final round of appeals to reverse his death sentence.