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Attorney Marlene Kamish speaking on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal
(After audio version of Confession of Arnold Beverly played) You have just heard the confession of Arnold Beverly. Mumia's former attorneys, Leonard Weinglass and Daniel Williams, had the confession of Arnold Beverly since June of 1999. They suppressed it and never turned it over to the court. On the day we filed our appearances, we filed the confession, the results of a polygraph corroborating the confession, a request for a deposition of Arnold Beverly, and we made the confession public at a news conference.
You might wonder why a person would freely confess to a killing. But I tell you, he is courageous and he is taking responsibility for his own act. You might also wonder why the prosecution and the court fight so desperately to keep the confession out of the court and to ignore the evidence that has been filed.
There is nothing unique in this situation. Another such case is within my own experience. In the case of Rolando Cruz and Alex Hernandez, the killer Brian Dugan had freely confessed to the rape, kidnapping and murder of Jeanine Nicarico when he was arrested for the murder of Melissa Ackerman, but the prosecution refused to hear his evidence. I think, primarily because Rolando Cruz and Alex Hernandez were framed. The police had falsified a confession. The fact that the confession was fabricated was only revealed when one of the policemen cracked during cross-examination. An investigator named Randy Garrett had discovered that the policeman who claimed to have overheard a confession to the killing was really in Florida on vacation on that day. Brian Dugan has confessed and Rolando and Alex are free, yet the state of Illinois refuses to charge the confessed killer. Maybe it is also because they had Dugan in custody for another crime after he killed Jeanine Nicarico, after that they let him go and he killed again, the details of the frame up of the two men would have been fully exposed if they accepted Dugan's confession.
Here in the case of Mumia, it is obvious that Mumia was framed, that he is innocent, and allowing Arnold Beverly into the courtroom would expose all these facts and the corruption of the police and prosecution as well.
Today I will first explain the current legal status of Mumia's case. Second, I will tell you a story that involves Mumia, a member of my family and me. And finally, I will offer some suggestions to you as to how you can help Mumia to win his freedom.
FIRST: THE LEGAL STATUS IN THE FEDERAL COURT. As many of you perhaps already know, on December 18, 2001 the United States District Court Judge William H. Yohn overturned the death sentence, sustained the conviction, and certified only one issue for appeal. At this moment the Commonwealth (which is what the prosecution calls itself in Pennsylvania) is appealing the overturning of the death sentence in the United States Court of Appeals For the Third Circuit. On behalf of Mumia we are also appealing Judge Yohn's decision to sustain the conviction to the Third Circuit. We have filed a Motion asking that the court certify additional issues for appeal.
In his ruling overturning the death sentence Judge Yohn gave the Commonwealth 180 days to hold a re-sentencing hearing. Several results are possible. If the Commonwealth decides not to hold a re-sentencing hearing in 180 days, Mumia's death sentence automatically becomes a life sentence unless the Third Circuit grants either our appeal or the Commonwealth's.
If the Commonwealth does hold a re-sentencing hearing, the death sentence could be re-instated. It could also be re-instated if the Third Circuit reverses Judge Yohn's opinion on overturning the death sentence. But, the 180 days has not yet begun to run because it is tolled by the appeals to the Third Circuit.
In his Memorandum & Order of December 18, 2001, Judge Yohn inter alia denied our Redrafted and Amended Petition for Habeas Corpus Relief. He also rejected Arnold Beverly's confession to the killing of Daniel Faulkner. This, in spite of the fact that the video tape, of which you just heard the sound track, is filed with the court as is the written confession. Also filed is the Declaration of Dr. Honts, the noted polygraph examiner, corroborating the fact that Arnold Beverly is telling the truth and the fact that the evidence supports the veracity of the confession of Arnold Beverly.
Arnold Beverly is ready and willing to testify as you just heard him say. Judge Yohn will not even let us take his deposition, which is why the video was made and filed in the court.
The single issue that Judge Yohn certified for appeal is called the Batson issue and is based on the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986) where the court held that the potential jurors cannot be struck from serving on the jury based on race. In Mumia's case, eleven out of fifteen peremptory strikes were made by prosecutor McGill against black potential jurors. Statistically, it is virtually impossible that this striking of Blacks from the jury was anything but race based. If we win on Batson, that ruling would mean that the court decided that Mumia never had a fair trial. The conviction would be thrown out automatically and he would either be given a re-trial or he would be freed.
The appeals court is empowered not only to overturn Judge Yohn's ruling on the death sentence, but it can also expand the issues it will review beyond the Batson issue. We have asked the court to review an additional eleven issues. Mumia is an innocent man. We have asked that the Writ of Habeas Corpus be granted and that he be set free.
NOW TURNING FOR JUST A MOMENT TO THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE SUPREME COURT. In addition to being on appeal to the Third Circuit, we are on appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Judge Dembe of the Court of Common Pleas has denied our Petition for Post Conviction Relief and/or Writ of Habeas Corpus. She has said she will not hear Arnold Beverly although she also has his written and video confession as well as the corroborating and supporting documentation. She says it comes too late, and she claims that she does not have the jurisdiction to hear about innocence. Nor, for that matter, does she have the jurisdiction to hear about guilt since Arnold Beverly is ready and willing to walk into any court and openly declare both his guilt and Mumia's innocence. It is not Mumia's fault that his former attorney's suppressed Arnold Beverly's confession. But Judge Dembe says that neither Mumia nor Beverly have a place in her courtroom. It is baffling to try to find logic in such a decision. We have filed a Notice of Appeal, but as of yet there is no briefing schedule.
NOW, MY STORY. First, let me reiterate: Mumia is innocent. Let the cynics sneer, if there are among you, those who choose to think, Oh, you never know. If you know Mumia, you know he is innocent. I know him very well and there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever. What happened to him on December 9th 1981 is that he was shot and beaten and brutalized.
I knew Mumia was innocent by merely reading the transcript. It was long before I came to know that the killer of Daniel Faulkner had confessed. It was long before I knew that the most highly esteemed polygraph expert in the country corroborated the confession. I knew he was innocent before Terri Maurer Carter, a court reporter, came forward and reported to us, confirming what we already knew, that Judge Sabo was a bigot. She signed a sworn declaration that she had heard Judge Sabo say "I'm going to help them fry the n****r."
It was before I knew that Chobert had recanted his testimony and admitted to an investigator that he was not in the position he said he was at the trial, and he could not have seen the shooting of Daniel Faulkner. I knew he was innocent before I knew that Chobert's evidence was suppressed by the former attorneys in the 1995 post-conviction hearing. I knew he was innocent before Yvette Williams, who had been in jail with Cynthia White (the most damning primary perjurous witness for the prosecution) came forward. I knew he was innocent before Yvette Williams swore in her declaration that Cynthia White told her that she had lied on the stand, that she saw nothing, wasn't there, and that she had lied because the police had forced her by intimidation and threats.
I knew he was innocent and must be freed before I knew that Mumia's brother Billy Cook expected to testify in the 1995 post-conviction hearing and was discouraged from doing so by Mumia's attorney Leonard Weinglass. He was intending to testify to his brother's innocence. He had written a sworn declaration, which was also suppressed, like the killer Arnold Beverly's confession was suppressed. Billy was going to testify because he was there, and because he knew his brother to be innocent.
I knew he was innocent and had to be freed before I knew that in the 1995 post-conviction hearing - as the whole world watched, Philadelphia thronged with media, and the city belonged to those who love Mumia - had Mumia testified, he would have been a presence so powerful that the force of the truth of his innocence could not have been denied. He would have walked from the courthouse a free man leaving in his wake the wicked Judge alone in the court, an evil alchemist stirring his pot of lies.
But Mumia, brother to us all, was not to take the witness stand on his own behalf at his own post-conviction hearing. He was to sit silent as the world watched wondering. He rose only momentarily to tell the court that his attorneys, i.e. Weinglass and Williams, had advised him not to testify. He was to wait for that legendary trial that oh these long years is yet to come. And the world watched wondering.
I knew he was innocent because you have but to open the trial transcript, not to the part where the trial actually begins on June 18th 1982, but to the earlier hearings, the preliminary ones, where Mumia is begging for a line-up as to all and every witness against him. Who begs for a line-up? Only two kinds of people, the crazy or the innocent, and Mumia is not crazy.
Was it bravado? No, this is no bravado. The insistence on his right to a line-up dominates the hearings on January 5, 1982, January 11, 1982 on February 22, 1982 and again on March 18th 1982.
Listen to Jackson speaking on January 5, 1982, page 2. (This was before Mumia asked for his right of self-representation) Jackson spoke: "May it please the Court I am appointed to represent Mr. Jamal in this matter. After several conversations and discussions with my client with regard to identification of him in this matter, Sir I would like to request a line-up, if the court please prior to the preliminary hearing."
Look at page 7, same date: McGill vigorously opposes a line-up. Why would that be only that he couldn't trust his witnesses to lie and he knew they couldn't independent of coercion make an identification? And this is the Mumia - remember - who was himself investigating the police. He knew how they handled witnesses. He knew the vulnerability of these witnesses to police intimidation.
As I read the repeated demands for a line-up, I began to experience his innocence and his desperation in his innocence. I could see him and feel his emotion. I experienced it not only intellectually, not only in the heart, but also viscerally in the gut. No guilty man begs to be thrown up against a white wall with blinding lights in his face to risk being identified by an unknown and unseen person. Mumia is innocent.
I went to Mumia. I told him what I had read and what I learned from the reading. He smiled. "It seems so long since anyone talked about it," he said. "But it gives me so much," I said. "What is that?" he asked. "Well," I said, "It is the best evidence of your innocence since you're not crazy, you must be innocent. But, it also tells me so much more. It tells me that you could not have been anywhere near either the policeman or your brother. You could not have intruded on any incident in progress because you would never have dared to ask for a line-up because some witness could have placed you in close proximity. But, beyond all that, I learned of your indomitable faith in human nature. You believed that when faced with the reality of the situation no one would be so evil as to pick you out of the line-up because they would be picking the wrong man." There was silence for a moment. And then Mumia said, "Thank You."
AND NOW TO COMPLETE MY STORY. I want to tell you what happened with a member of my family shortly after my conversation with Mumia. I was on the phone talking with a close relative. I was trying to explain to her how important the case was because the man was a wonderful person and he was innocent and the witnesses lied and the trial was unfair. I was trying to justify to her why I was devoting myself so entirely to the case. For everything I said, I heard a "A-huh, A-huh," dry with skepticism. Then I said, "He asked for a line-up, but they wouldn't give it to him.² Her voice broke in on my words, "I was once in a line-up," she said. "Why when was that?" I asked. "Well," she said, "my work was across the street from the police station and one day the police came over and asked the supervisor if people could participate in a line up. My supervisor picked me." "But why would you do that? Weren't you scared?" I asked. "No," she blurted out, "because I was innocent." There was silence. She never criticized me again.
THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS THAT YOU MAY DO SUPPORT MUMIA. Firstly, a campaign has been launched to write to Governor Mark Schweiker asking him to order the Attorney General to take over the case from the obviously corrupt District Attorney's office, immediately go into court and stipulate to the fact that Mumia did not have a fair trial < to do the right thing, confess error, and free Mumia.
Mumia is a union member. He refused to be interviewed by the scabs during the ABC strike. He said, "He'd rather die then cross the picket line." He deserves your support. He has achieved significant union support. As many of you perhaps know from your own participation, the Oakland teachers union voted to conduct a one day teach-in throughout the entire system, and succeeded in doing so in spite of severe opposition from the police and the school board. From this action they broke the media black-out and achieved two weeks of media coverage.
Another remarkable show of support for Mumia was when the ILWU conducted a twenty-four hour shut-down of all the ports from Vancouver to San Diego as a protest strike in behalf of Mumia. This was the first political strike since the 1930's.
Similarly, you can organize in your workplace. Declare one day for education about Mumia's case. If you have a union in your work place set up a support committee for Mumia. If you don't have a union organize one. Take a three-hour paid lunch to educate your fellow workers on the case. Get the word out. We must work legally and politically together to assert enough pressure to win Mumia's freedom. Life imprisonment is an intolerable result. He must be freed.
Very importantly the defense team is desperately in need of funds. If you wish to support the defense, please do as Mumia has requested. None of the lawyers have gotten paid at all. Period. This cannot continue. It is virtually insupportable. Furthermore, we cannot do the work we need to do, and pay the people to do what is necessary to be done, without even money for supplies, or to pay experts and investigators. The situation is quite desperate. If I do say so, we've done a phenomenal amount of work and paid for it ourselves because we are totally dedicated to the freedom of Mumia regardless of the personal sacrifice. This should not go on. Mumia has asked that money to support his legal defense be sent to, or made out today to:
Humanitarian Law Project 8124 W. 3rd St. Suite 105 Los Angeles, California 90048.
It will be greatly appreciated by Mumia and his defense team.
Thank you very much. It is an honor to represent Mumia and to be here with you today.
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