- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 20, 2001

PHILADELPHIA Lawyers for cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal said yesterday they will ask a federal appeals court to grant him a new trial, expressing dismay that a judge upheld the former Black Panther's 1982 conviction while throwing out his death sentence.
U.S. District Judge William Yohn on Tuesday found errors in the sentencing phase of the original trial and ordered Abu-Jamal, 47, to be resentenced within 180 days, or face life imprisonment.
But Judge Yohn rejected 28 other defense claims, among them that the trial judge and jury were biased, evidence was suppressed, Abu-Jamal's confession was fabricated and his attorney was ineffective.
"This is a partial victory," said defense attorney Michael Coard. "There were more glaring errors in the trial itself, not just in the sentencing."
District Attorney Lynne Abraham is also preparing an appeal, calling the judge's decision "legally flawed."
Abu-Jamal "has always been a remorseless, cold-blooded killer," she said.
The appeals will likely take years to resolve, prolonging a case that has become an international cause celebre and brought years of misery to the family of murdered Officer Daniel Faulkner.
His widow called the decision Tuesday only a week before Christmas and a little more than a week after the 20th anniversary of the murder "sick and twisted"
"It's sad [Judge Yohn] cannot look at this trial and realize that Mumia Abu-Jamal received a fair trial, and was in control of his own destiny," Mrs. Faulkner said. "Instead, he wants to play the middle road and try to appease both sides and it doesn't work."
The radical and leftist writings of Abu-Jamal have attracted supporters around the world and have made him a rallying point for death-penalty opponents.
French politicians and activists including National Assembly President Raymond Forni yesterday hailed the judge's action.
Mr. Forni issued a statement saying he was "delighted" by the judge's action. "I pay homage to [those] who mobilized in favor of Mumia Abu-Jamal and I hope that true justice will finally be delivered to him," said the French National Assembly president, a Socialist.
Earlier this month, the Paris City Council named Abu-Jamal an honorary citizen of the French capital, the first person to receive the symbolic title since Pablo Picasso in 1971.
Other leftist politicians across Europe praised the decision.
In Denmark, the Communist Party Marxist-Leninist released a statement calling the ruling "a great victory for his supporters." The Paris office of the Young Communist Movement also issued a statement praising the judge's decision and calling for a new trial.
If Abu-Jamal wins a new sentencing hearing, it will be nothing like the one conducted after his conviction, prosecutors and defense attorneys said yesterday.
In the first sentencing proceeding, only two witnesses testified. A police clerk confirmed Officer Faulkner was employed as a police officer, an aggravating circumstance that allowed the jury to impose the death penalty.
Abu-Jamal, who had tried to dismiss his lawyers and already had denounced the trial as a political frame-up, took the stand himself during the one-day hearing. He denouncing his lawyer as inadequate and called the judge a "black-robed conspirator" and a "hangman."
A second hearing would likely take weeks.
The new jury would have to be informed on the facts of the case; witnesses and evidence from the original trial could be presented to help jurors decide on a sentence of death or life imprisonment.
Abu-Jamal's lawyers could try to introduce new evidence they say exonerates him, said Joseph McGill, who prosecuted Abu-Jamal in 1982.
Judge Yohn's ruling had to do with how the jury was told to weigh mitigating and aggravating circumstances.
The jury said it had found one aggravating circumstance the victim was a police officer and one mitigating factor Abu-Jamal's lack of a significant criminal record.
In death-penalty cases, each juror is supposed to weigh aggravating factors against mitigating ones to decide whether the defendant should be sentenced to death.

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