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''Justice for Officer Faulkner''

by YellowTimes.ORG Sunday, Jan. 13, 2002 at 5:24 AM

(YellowTimes.ORG) – Mumia Abu-Jamal, the African-American journalist who has been on death row in Philadelphia for nearly 20 years, has received a major victory. His death sentence was thrown out by an appellate judge, William H. Yohn, and replaced by an order for a new sentencing...

"Justice for Officer Faulkner"
on Saturday, January 12 @ 05:04:09 EST

By Mitch Jones
YellowTimes.ORG Columnist (United States)

(YellowTimes.ORG) – Mumia Abu-Jamal, the African-American journalist who has been on death row in Philadelphia for nearly 20 years, has received a major victory. His death sentence was thrown out by an appellate judge, William H. Yohn, and replaced by an order for a new sentencing hearing or a sentence of life in prison if a hearing is not conducted within six months.

Although Mumia supporters are relieved that the death penalty has been thrown out, they still say that it is not enough. Pam Africa of International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal and the revolutionary organization MOVE said, “The only way it would be a good ruling is if the judge was honest and fair and released Mumia.”

The group of individuals convinced that Mumia was the killer of Officer Daniel Faulkner says that the decision is appalling. Faulkner’s widow, Maureen, called the judge’s ruling sick and twisted.

The idea of justice is not a radical idea. It’s the belief that everything should have a consequence. Everyone has a right to want justice. The idea of justice for Daniel Faulkner is noble. I, like everyone, want to see justice served, but the question is does the conviction of Mumia Abu-Jamal serve the interest of justice for both Mumia Abu-Jamal and William Faulkner?

It is understandable that the widow of Officer Faulkner would be angry and wants to scapegoat wherever there is minimal indication of guilt. Officer Faulkner died tragically and he left a hole in Maureen Faulkner’s life, but does executing Mumia really make that any better?

The question of justice is important because there needs to be universal justice. Justice for one is justice for all. There is significant evidence in Mumia’s defense that Judge Yohn has refused to hear, the most significant of which is the confession of Arnold Beverley, a mob hit man, to committing the crime.

But why is this decision not enough in the interest of justice? For one thing, there is significant new evidence. A mob hit man who admits to killing officer Faulkner is now on death row for another crime. He has not been allowed to testify by the state judge and the federal judge. He has essentially been locked out of the court procedures.

I e-mailed a group of people who call themselves Justice for Officer Daniel Faulkner and asked them for their rebuttal to the testimony of Arnold Beverly. Their reply was posted on their website www.danielfaulkner.com.

Most significantly, they stated: “The statement appears to be a poorly constructed attempt to bring together various elements of testimony given by Jamal's other witnesses. Beverly sketches an absurd ‘Twilight Zone’ scenario in which he and another man murdered Officer Daniel Faulkner in full view of a bunch of Faulkner's fellow police officers. Strangely, no one -- not the prosecution eyewitnesses, nor even the many defense witnesses paraded by Jamal since 1995 -- seems to have seen Beverly, or to have seen what Beverly claims happened.”

In the press release regarding the appeal to State Supreme Court Judge Pamela Dembe, supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal say that Beverly actually admitted that he killed Officer Faulkner before Abu-Jamal arrived on the scene. Dembe has still not allowed Beverly to testify on the grounds that the confession was filed too late, 60 days after Mumia Abu-Jamal had knowledge of it.

It is obvious that there is enough evidence for another look at this case. Judge Yohn’s decision was a step in the right direction, but it is still not enough. I do not advocate an immediate release for Mumia, but he does deserve a new trial.

Mitch Jones encourages your comments: mjones@YellowTimes.ORG

YellowTimes.ORG urges its material to be reproduced, broadcasted, or rewritten as long as a link to YellowTimes.ORG is included.
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