- Associated Press - Friday, March 6, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A federal judge on Friday kept alive two lawsuits challenging a Pennsylvania law that arose after a man convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer gave a taped speech at commencement for a small Vermont college.

U.S. Middle District Judge Christopher Conner declined a request by the state attorney general to dismiss the litigation over a state law passed after Mumia Abu-Jamal addressed Goddard College last year. He set the cases for trial later this month.

“A decision on the constitutionality of the statute would have broad and immediate utility, not only to the parties before the court but to offenders and potential third parties across the commonwealth whose expression, according to plaintiffs, is currently chilled by the act’s existence,” Conner wrote.

The Revictimization Relief Act lets victims of violent crimes seek injunctions against offenders who act in ways that perpetuate their mental anguish.

Abu-Jamal, who is serving life in prison for the 1981 shooting death of Officer Daniel Faulkner, is among one group of plaintiffs who argue the law is an illegal infringement of free speech.

Conner wrote that another lifer has halted plans for a book because of the new law.

He dismissed Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams as a defendant because Williams has said he does not intend to enforce the law while the litigation is pending.

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