The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has again declared Mumia Abu-Jamal’s death sentence unconstitutional, on the basis that members of the jury during his trial were given unclear sentencing instructions. The award-winning journalist has been on Pennsylvania’s death row for 29 years. His 1982 murder trial and subsequent conviction has been the subject of great debate.
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Highlight. 3rd Circuit Affirms its decision to Overturn Mumia Abu-Jaamal sentence of death
Ruling based on oral arguments before the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Nov. 9th 2010 which argued for the imposition of the death sentence in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Orders DA to give him life in prison, or to hold a trial within six months on just the sentence phrase before a jury to decide life or death.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist who chronicles the human condition. He has been a resident of Pennsylvania’s death row for twenty-nine years. Writing from his solitary confinement cell his essays have reached a worldwide audience. His books "Live From Death Row", "Death Blossoms", "All Things Censored", “Faith of Our Fathers”, “We Want Freedom”, and “Jailhouse Lawyers” have sold hundreds of thousands of copies and been translated into nine languages. His 1982-murder trial and subsequent conviction has been the subject of great debate.
Here is the opinion
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT
a/k/a WESLEY COOK
DIRECT QUOTES FROM DECISION
“Accordingly, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court failed to evaluate whether the complete text of the verdict form, together with the jury instructions, would create a substantial probability the jury believed both aggravating and mitigating circumstances must be found unanimously. See id. For these reasons, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s application of Mills was objectively unreasonable.
"thereby making clear that, although aggravating circumstances must be found unanimously, mitigating evidence need not be found unanimously in order to be considered by individual jurors during the weighing and balancing process."
"For the foregoing reasons, we will affirm the District Court’s grant of relief on the mitigation instruction claim. As the District Court noted, the “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may conduct a new sentencing hearing in a manner consistent with this opinion within 180 days of the Order accompanying this [opinion">, during which period the execution of the writ of habeas corpus will be stayed, or shall sentence [Abu-Jamal"> to life imprisonment.” Abu-Jamal, 2001 WL 1609690, at *130."