Cop Killer Abu Jamal escapes death

On Thursday, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decided Abu Jamal v. Horn.  Abu Jamal was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981 and sentenced to death. 

Capital Defense Weekly writes here that the Third Circuit panel granted relief as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court “was objectively unreasonable” when analyzing whether the “jury instructions and the verdict form created a reasonable likelihood that the jury believed” it was not permitted to find a mitigating factor unless all 12 agreed upon it. 

The panel split, 2-1, on whether the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania intentionally struck jurors on the basis of race. The prosecution used 2/3rds of its strikes to remove persons of color to create a jury that, in a county with a minority of whites, consisted of 9 whites and 3 African Americans The panel, creating new law in the Circuit, held that trial counsel failed to adequately raise the issue at trial (and essentially abandoned it), despite a merits determination by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

An article from the AP is here.  The 118 page decision is here.

Posted on March 28, 2008 at 06:55AM by