FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PROSECUTION SEEKS TO DENY MUMIA ABU-JAMAL COUNSEL OF CHOICE
June 7, 2001 (PHILADELPHIA, USA) - In a move eerily reminiscent of his 1981 trial, which resulted in the incarceration of an innocent man on Pennsylvania's death row for close to 20 years, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office is once again seeking to prevent Mumia Abu-Jamal from exercising his right to be represented by counsel of his choice. Mr. Jamal's case is currently pending before Judge William H. Yohn in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in a federal habeas corpus action.
The District Attorney's office has objected to Jamal's selection of Nick Brown, Esq., a pre-eminent British barrister, as a member of his defense team. Attorneys from foreign nations, including Britain and Canada, are routinely admitted to practice before various American courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, for the purposes of a particular case. Generally speaking, the only issue with respect to such admissions is whether an attorney is qualified to practice law.
"It is indisputable that Nick Brown is qualified to be a member of Mumia's defense team and to appear before the court," said Jamal's attorney Marlene Kamish. "In fact, it seems that the real issue for the District Attorney's Office is that he is too qualified."
Brown graduated in the top 5% of his class at Cambridge University's law school, and has been a barrister at one of London's leading law chambers for more than ten years. Barristers are members of an elite society of specialized trial attorneys. Mr. Brown's chambers are the equivalent of a top "AV- rated " law firm in a major American city. Brown has tried hundreds of civil and criminal cases.
Brown not only has extensive experience in the legal system from which the American judicial system was born, but also has a thorough understanding of Jamal's case and relevant American constitutional provisions and laws. He was the author of a comprehensive amicus brief submitted by 22 members of the British Parliament in Jamal's case.
The irony of this latest move by the D.A's office is not lost on Jamal or his defense team. One of the 29 constitutional violations which took place during the original trial, and one of the grounds for Jamal's pending habeas corpus petition, is the denial of the constitutional right to represent himself and be represented by counsel of his choice.
"Throughout the history of this case, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its counsel have defended the ineffective representation of counsel afforded [Jamal] at trial and on appeal," Jamal's attorneys state in a brief on the issue filed with the court on Monday, June 4, 2001.
"Opposition to motions for admission of attorneys from outside a court's jurisdiction are almost unheard of," Eliot Grossman, also a member of Jamal's new legal team, stated. "If the D.A's office is so sure of its case against Mumia, why is it so concerned about who represents him in a habeas corpus proceeding?"
Another individual, Arnold Beverly, has admitted to committing the crime Jamal was charged with in 1981. Although Mr. Beverly's sworn confession was filed with the court on May 4th, 2001, and corroborated by a polygraph examination, Mumia Abu-Jamal remains on death row.
For more information, contact:
Marlene Kamish, (412) 264-6686
OR Eliot Grossman, (626) 943-1945
visit http://www.chicagofreemumia.org --OR-- http://www.mumia.org for other recent information about Mumia Abu-Jamal