The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, "Supreme Court refuses to reinstate Abu-Jamal death sentence." It's by Joseph A. Slobodzian.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear a petition by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office seeking to reinstate the death penalty against Mumia Abu-Jamal.
The ruling in the case of Abu-Jamal - convicted of murder in the 1981 shooting of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner - was one of more than 250 appeals summarily rejected by the high court without comment. It means that, unless the District Attorney's Office decides to conduct a new sentencing hearing, Abu-Jamal, 57, will continue serving a life sentence with no chance of parole.
Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for District Attorney Seth Williams, said the prosecutor's office would not comment on the ruling while its appeals unit decides what to do next.
The prosecutor's unsuccessful appeal to the nation's highest court followed a decision in April by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.
The Third Circuit reaffirmed its ruling that Abu-Jamal's sentencing hearing was unfair, giving the District Attorney's Office the choice of conducting a new death-penalty hearing or letting Abu-Jamal serve life.
Regardless of the district attorney's decision on a sentencing hearing, pending appeals by Abu-Jamal on other issues in federal and state appeals courts could take years to resolve.
Abu-Jamal is housed at the state prison in Greene County in Western Pennsylvania, where he has achieved the distinction of living longer on death row than any other of the state's 208 condemned men and women.
The Supreme Court refused to revisit one of the nation's most controversial and racially charged death-penalty cases, leaving it to a Philadelphia prosecutor to decide whether to convene a jury and seek a new death sentence against Mumia Abu-Jamal for murdering a police officer in 1981.
Without comment, the justices turned down an appeal from Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who urged the high court to restore a death sentence for the former Black Panther, author and radio reporter.
The action left in place rulings that upheld Abu-Jamal's murder conviction, but set aside the death penalty. A federal judge and the U.S. court of appeals in Philadelphia had set aside the death sentence on the grounds that the instructions to his jury were flawed and unclear.
The district attorney now has a choice. He could convene a new jury to seek another death sentence for Abu-Jamal, or he could let him remain in prison for life under the terms of his murder conviction. A spokeswoman for Williams said the district attorney would take some time to make a decision.
In other action Tuesday:
• The court refused to overturn a decision to throw out the confession of a man convicted of killing nine people at a Buddhist temple near Phoenix as a juvenile. Prosecutors plan to seek a retrial of Jonathan Doody, who had been convicted of the slayings of six priests, a nun and two helpers during a robbery at the temple. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the conviction, saying his Miranda warnings were inadequate.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which represents Abu-Jamal issued a statement, "United States Supreme Court Rejects Appeal from Philadelphia DA’s Office. Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Death Sentence is Unconstitutional." Here's an excerpt:
The Court’s decision brings to an end nearly thirty years of litigation over the fairness of the sentencing hearing that resulted in Mr. Abu-Jamal’s being condemned to death. Mr. Abu-Jamal will be automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole unless the District Attorney elects to seek another death sentence from a new jury.
The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and Professor Judith Ritter of Widener Law School represent Mr. Abu-Jamal in the appeal of his conviction and death sentence for the 1981 murder of a police officer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Supreme Court’s decision marks the fourth time that the federal courts have found that Mr. Abu-Jamal’s sentencing jury was misled about the constitutionally mandated process for considering evidence supporting a life sentence.
The AP report on the Golden Temple case is, "Retrial planned in temple killings," by Jacques Billeaud.
Prosecutors plan to seek a retrial for a man whose conviction for killing nine people at a Buddhist temple was overturned after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to reverse a decision that threw out his confession.
Jerry Cobb, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, said Tuesday that prosecutors will file charges in the coming days against Jonathan Doody in the 1991 killings at the Wat Promkunaram temple west of Phoenix. Cobb said it will take some time to prepare the charges.
"This is a 20-year-old case," Cobb said. "We have to get our arms around it."
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear an appeal by Arizona officials who asked for a re-examination of a lower court's decision to throw out Doody's confession.
Doody was convicted of the slayings of six priests, a nun and two helpers during a robbery at the temple. The bodies were found arranged in a circle, and all had been shot in the head.
Doody, who was 17 at the time of the killings, was sentenced to 281 years in prison after he was convicted of murder, armed robbery and other charges in the slayings. He maintained that he's innocent.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found Doody's Miranda warnings were inadequate and threw out the conviction, ruling the confession was involuntary, partly because he wasn't properly read his rights by the officers interrogating him.