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Issued 14 October 1999
Kia ora, for those of you working to prevent the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Pennsylvania Governor yesterday signed his execution warrant. This message has 3 parts :
1) from 13 Oct - the statement from the Governor's office ;
2) from 4 Oct - statements from Mumia Abu-Jamal, Daniel Williams and Leonard Weinglass about the Supreme Court's refusal to grant a re-trial;
3) Who you can express your indignation about this to.
1) Pennsylvania Gov. Ridge Signs Three Execution Warrants
HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge today signed warrants for the execution by lethal injection of Mumia Abu-Jamal of Philadelphia, Dennis Counterman of Lehigh County and Jerome J. Gibson of Bucks County.
Gov. Ridge set Abu-Jamal's execution for Thursday, Dec. 2, 1999.
In July 1982, Abu-Jamal was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to die for the Dec. 9, 1981, murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, 25. Abu-Jamal was formally sentenced to death on May 25, 1983. That judgment was upheld by the state Supreme Court on March 6, 1989. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Abu-Jamal's petition for a writ of certiorari on Oct. 1, 1990, and denied two subsequent petitions for rehearing.
On June 1, 1995, Gov. Ridge issued a warrant scheduling Abu-Jamal's execution for the week beginning Aug. 13, 1995. On Aug. 7, 1995, the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas stayed the execution pending the resolution of Abu-Jamal's Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition. On Sept. 15, 1995, the Court of Common Pleas denied post-conviction relief. On Oct. 29, 1998, the state Supreme Court affirmed the denial of PCRA relief. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Abu-Jamal's petition for a writ of certiorari on Oct. 4, 1999, lifting the stay.
Abu-Jamal, 45, is an inmate at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Greene, Greene County.
Gov. Ridge set Counterman's execution for Tuesday, Dec. 7.
In February 1990, Counterman was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to die for burning his house and killing his three trapped sons -- Christopher, six years old; James, four years old; and Scott, 10 weeks old. Counterman was formally sentenced to death on Dec. 6, 1996. The state Supreme Court upheld that judgment on Oct. 26, 1998.
On Feb. 17, 1999, Gov. Ridge signed a warrant scheduling Counterman's execution for April 13, 1999. On March 12, 1999, the state Supreme Court stayed the execution pending the filing and resolution of Counterman's petition for writ of certiorari. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Counterman's petition for a writ of certiorari on Oct. 4, 1999, lifting the stay.
Counterman, 39, is a prisoner at SCI Greene.
Gov. Ridge set Gibson's execution for Thursday, Dec. 9, 1999.
In March 1995, Gibson was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to die for the Sept. 29, 1994, murder of Robert Berger, a 76-year-old store clerk, during a robbery. Gibson was formally sentenced to death on Aug. 24, 1995. That judgment was upheld by the state Supreme Court on Nov. 17, 1998.
On March 9, 1999, Gov. Ridge signed a warrant scheduling Gibson's execution for May 6, 1999. On April 1, 1999, the state Supreme Court stayed the execution pending the filing and resolution of Gibson's petition for writ of certiorari. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Gibson's petition for a writ of certiorari on Oct. 4, 1999, lifting the stay.
Gibson, 41, is an inmate at SCI Greene.
Gov. Ridge now has signed 176 death warrants since taking office. Three have been carried out, the first executions in Pennsylvania since 1962.
For more information, contact Tim Reeves, Press Secretary of the Pennsylvania Office of the Governor, 717-783-1116.
SOURCE: Pennsylvania Office of the Governor
2) Stop the Execution! MUMIA ABU-JAMAL'S STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO SUPREME COURT DENIAL FOR NEW TRIAL
October 4, 1999
It was not unexpected that the Supreme Court would deny my appeal. The Supreme Court hears only a tiny percent of the cases that are brought before it, roughly 75 out of 7,000 in one semester or a term of the court. I entertained no expectations that mine would be granted. We have to remember that we are working with a conservative court that has worked deciduously in the Bush and Reagan administrations and now in the Clinton administration to narrow the chances of anyone having had their case heard, not just a prisoner on death row. Even the most charitable observer must agree that by virtue of the court taking such a small fraction of the important cases that are filed before it, it is impossible to ignore the fact that many grave injustices are going unresolved. Given the tone and tenor of recent Supreme Court opinions there is even a sense of relief that they didn't grant my third appeal. And the trend is increasingly in favor of the State, the trend is increasingly to disfavor the defendant and the accused. Certainly there are exceptions, but that's the undeniable trend, the expansion of state power and police power in the retractions of prisoners' rights.
The struggle continued, the same old forces are still at work. Look what happened when I called into WBAI. I was literally pulled off the air a few weeks ago. The recent Phillip Block debacle reflects too how desperate the state is and their desperation is really an acknowledgement that none of them believed Phil's confession story to begin with. Still we can't forget the old saying that the truth shall set you free. I still believe that. I'd be a fool not to.
From Death Row, Mumia Abu-Jamal
INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY & FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
October 4, 1999
Today, the United States Supreme Court failed to seize an opportunity to do justice and to end a 17-year nightmare. An opportunity to vindicate a well-established right, secured within the Constitution itself, has been squandered. We are sorely disappointed in the Supreme Court's unwillingness to give Mumia a hearing in that court, even though the record is crystal clear as to what happened in Mumia's trial. Mumia was unquestionably stripped unjustifiably of his right to represent himself. He had decided to represent himself after it became apparent that his court-appointed lawyer was unwilling and incapable of representing him adequately. Yet, at the very moment that the trial began, Mumia's right to handle his own case was taken from him and the case placed back into the hands of his incompetent defense counsel who did not even expect that he would be trying the case.
When Mumia refused to sit in silence as his rights were being abridged, he was forcibly removed from the trial proceedings.
All that we asked of the Supreme Court was to put this case on its docket so these incontrovertible facts could be evaluated in the light of the Constitution. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court let this golden moment pass, and we must now present these, and other claims concerning Mumia's innocence, to the federal courts. We are finalizing our federal habeas petition and shall file it shortly. Although disappointed by the Supreme Court's lack of courage and resolve, we are hopeful that the light we see in front of us is the light of justice.
3) Who you can express your indignation about this to :
a) US ambassador - Josiah Beeman, US Embassy, PO Box 1190, Wellington; tel (04) 472 2068; fax (04) 471 2380 or 472 9804, firstname.lastname@example.org
b) Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge - fax - 00-1-717-772-1198 or 00-1-717-783-4429;
c) US Attorney General Janet Reno - fax - 00-1- 202 514-4371;
d) President Bill Clinton, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC 20001,United States of America. Fax 00-1-202-456-246 or 00-1-202-456-2883.
You can check out http://www.mumia.org for more information.