Image

10:44 AM / Tuesday June 2, 2020

14 Nov 2010

Abu-Jamal’s lawyer quits on eve of key hearing

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
November 14, 2010 Category: Local Posted by:

By Maryclaire Dale

Associated Press

 

ABOVE PHOTO: Ramona Africa makes remarks during a news conference last Monday. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear a new sentencing hearing for death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal on Tuesday.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

 

The lead lawyer for celebrated death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal has quit the case days before a key appeals court hearing, amid a rift with his famous client over strategy.

 

Lawyer Robert R. Bryan stepped down after Abu-Jamal asked him to sit silent in court while another lawyer argues that jury instructions in his 1982 trial were flawed.

 

At Abu-Jamal’s insistence, Widener University law professor Judith L. Ritter will now argue the issue.

 

Abu-Jamal, 56, has had about 10 lawyers represent him since his 1981 arrest, and another dozen or two work on his behalf through advocacy groups.

 

Bryan had taken over the case seven years ago and pushed to overturn both his client’s death sentence and conviction in the 1981 slaying of a Philadelphia police officer.

 

“He and I had a very basic disagreement about this argument tomorrow,” Bryan said Monday. “It finally got to the point where I just felt like, ethically, I was totally compromised.”

 

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Abu-Jamal a new sentencing hearing in 2008 after finding the jury instructions flawed. But the U.S. Supreme Court this year ordered the court to reconsider after upholding similar jury instructions in an Ohio case.

 

That seemingly makes Tuesday’s arguments an uphill battle for Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, radio reporter and taxi driver convicted of killing 25-year-old Officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal’s writings and broadcasts from death row have helped make him an international cause celebre among death-penalty opponents and an array of other activists.

 

Two documentary films about Abu-Jamal debuted this year, offering rival views of his case.

 

Faulkner’s widow, Maureen, has also worked to preserve her husband’s memory, co-authoring a book and cooperating with one of the films.

 

Ritter has previously argued the jury-instruction issue before the 3rd Circuit, while Bryan handled other issues. She did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment Monday.

 

Image

Abu-Jamal has argued in numerous appeals that racism by the trial judge and prosecutors corrupted his conviction at the hands of a mostly white jury. Those appeals have so far failed.

 

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have fought a federal judge’s 2001 decision to grant Abu-Jamal a new sentencing hearing because of the jury instructions.

 

The alleged flaw relates to whether jurors understood how to weigh mitigating circumstances in the death-penalty phase.

 

Bryan, based in San Francisco, said he met with Abu-Jamal about every six weeks over the years at a state prison in western Pennsylvania, and spoke to him by phone twice a week.

 

“I think this case can be won,” Bryan said. “I still think that he can be saved.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News

Health

Risks complicate reopenings as WHO warns 1st wave not over

May 29, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: In this image provided by the New York Stock Exchange, New...

Diaspora

In a recent inter-continental video conference, Ghanaian and U.S. leaders are named to the board of The Collaboration for IT and Communications Excellence

May 29, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email A group of business, professional, academic, civic and public-sector leaders from Northern and...

Go With The-Flo

Meghan The Stallion has partnered with Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty line for its summer campaign

May 29, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Meghan The Stallion (Photo: lev radin / Shutterstock) By Florence Anthony...

Week In Review

11-year-old girl says racism behind white woman’s assault

May 29, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: This photo provided by Attorney Justin T. Bamberg shows Skhylur Davis....

Sun Report

The Very First Memorial Day

May 29, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email The tradition of Memorial Day began on May 1, 1865, in Charleston, South...

Sports

Malcolm Jenkins to deliver commencement address for School District of Philadelphia’s virtual graduation ceremony

May 29, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email The two-time Super Bowl champion will share words of wisdom during special event...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff