It was not unexpected that the Supreme Court would deny my appeal. The Supreme Court hears only a tiny percent of the cases that are brought before it, roughly 75 out of 7,000 in one semester or a term of the court. I entertained no expectations that mine would be granted. We have to remember that we are working with a conservative court that has worked deciduously in the Bush and Reagan administrations and now in the Clinton administration to narrow the chances of anyone having had their case heard, not just a prisoner on death row. Even the most charitable observer must agree that by virtue of the court taking such a small fraction of the important cases that are filed before it, it is impossible to ignore the fact that many grave injustices are going unresolved. Given the tone and tenor of recent Supreme Court opinions there is even a sense of relief that they didn't grant my third appeal. And the trend is increasingly in favor of the State, the trend is increasingly to disfavor the defendant and the accused. Certainly there are exceptions, but that's the undeniable trend, the expansion of state power and police power in the retractions of prisoners' rights.
The struggle continued, the same old forces are still at work. Look what happened when I called into WBAI. I was literally pulled off the air a few weeks ago. The recent Phillip Block debacle reflects too how desperate the state is and their desperation is really an acknowledgement that none of them
believed Phil's confession story to begin with. Still we can't forget the old saying that the truth shall set you free. I still believe that. I'd be a fool not to.
October 4, 1999
From Death Row, Mumia Abu-Jamal
October 4, 1999
TO: MUMIA SUPPORTERS
FROM: DANIEL WILLIAMS AND LEONARD WEINGLASS
RE: DENIAL OF CERT.
Today, the United States Supreme Court failed to seize an opportunity to do justice and to end a 17-year nightmare. An opportunity to vindicate a well-established right, secured within the Constitution itself, has been squandered. We are sorely disappointed in the Supreme Court's unwillingness to give Mumia a hearing in that court, even though the record is crystal clear as to what happened in Mumia's trial. Mumia was unquestionably stripped unjustifiably of his right to represent himself.
He had decided to represent himself after it became apparent that his court-appointed lawyer was unwilling and incapable of representing him adequately. Yet, at the very moment that the trial began, Mumia's right to handle his own case was taken from him and the case placed back into the hands of his incompetent defense counsel who did not even expect that he would be trying the case.
When Mumia refused to sit in silence as his rights were being abridged, he was forcibly removed from the trial proceedings.
All that we asked of the Supreme Court was to put this case on its docket so these incontrovertible facts could be evaluated in the light of the Constitution. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court let this golden moment pass, and we must now present these, and other claims concerning Mumia's innocence, to the federal courts. We are finalizing our federal habeas petition and shall file it shortly. Although disappointed by the Supreme Court's lack of courage and resolve, we are hopeful that the light we see in front of us is the light of justice.
For more information, contact:
Refuse & Resist
305 Madison Avenue, Suite 1166
New York, New York
Tel: 212-713-5657 or local SF Bay Area Chapter: 510-704-5293
Further reading on Mumia Abu-Jamal: