This is not the appeal to the US
Supreme Court on the Batson issue for a new trial that will be filed later
This is a new very important legal initiative
appealing to the US Supreme Court on the use of police-coerced
testimony and fabricated confessions both by the Common Court of Appeals
and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in convicting Mumia and sentencing him
to death in clear violation of his constitutional
Date: September 12,
From: Robert R. Bryan, lead
Subject: U.S. Supreme Court litigation on behalf
of Mumia Abu-Jamal, death row, Pennsylvania
There has been extensive news attention to the ongoing federal
proceedings concerning my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal, on the hotly contested
issue of racism in jury selection and the ordering of a new jury
trial on the question of life or death. (Abu-Jamal v.
Horn, 520 F.3d 272 (3rd Cir. 2008).) The massive issue of
racism will be presented to the U.S. Supreme Court later this year.
However, few are aware that we have been actively litigating separate
issues concerning fraud and the subornation of perjury by the Philadelphia
Police Department and the District Attorney of Philadelphia. We are
now before the Supreme Court regarding this governmental misconduct which
resulted in Mumia being convicted and sentenced to
Court On July 18, 2008, I filed on behalf of
Mumia in the Supreme Court, a Petition for Writ of Certiorari.
(Abu-Jamal v. Pennsylvania,
U.S. Sup. Ct. No. 08-5456.) This
arises from adverse rulings by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
and the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
The basis of the current
litigation is that the prosecution persuaded witnesses to lie in order to
obtain a conviction and death judgment against my client. The
following are excerpts from what I have presented to the Supreme Court
(without case citations and legal argument):
QUESTIONS PRESENTED FOR REVIEW
Whether a new trial is mandated where there is newly
discovered evidence establishing that the police (a) persuaded a witness
to falsely identify a defendant as having shot a police officer, and (b)
induced another to falsely claim she heard him confess, in violation of
rights guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments
to the United States Constitution.
Whether a new trial is required where there is newly
discovered evidence which establishes that the prosecution used a
fabricated confession and false identification testimony in a capital
murder trial, in violation of the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth
Whether the prosecutorial suppression of exculpatory
evidence including the fact that (a) a witness was persuaded to lie that
she had witnessed the homicide and (b) another encouraged to manufacture
a false confession attributed to Petitioner, contravened
Brady v. Maryland,
373 U.S. 83
(1963) and the right to a
fair trial, due process of law, and a fair penalty trial guaranteed by
the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and
Whether it is error for a state court to deny a hearing on
newly discovered evidence of prosecutorial fraud and innocence, where
the new claims involving police-induced false testimony were previously
unknown to a petitioner and could not have been ascertained by the
exercise of due diligence because of state
. . .
GRANTING THE WRIT
. . .
THE NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE ESTABLISHES THAT THE
PROSECUTION MANIPULATED A PURPORTED EYEWITNESS TO FALSELY IDENTIFY
PETITIONER AS THE SHOOTER, IN VIOLATION OF THE FIFTH, SIXTH EIGHTH, AND
Petitioner was deprived of
his right to a fair and reliable determination of guilt and penalty, as
guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the
United States Constitution because the state's purported eyewitness,
Cynthia White, was coaxed and coerced into providing false testimony
against him. Her testimony was critical to the
prosecution. If the jury had learned that her
testimony was the product of threats and favors, there is a reasonable
probability that the result of the trial would have been different. . .
Newly discovered evidence from
[Yvette} Williams establishes that White lied by falsely testifying
that she observed Petitioner shoot police officer Daniel
Faulkner. In fact, she did not see the
shooting. White was threatened with imprisonment and
in fear of being killed by the police if she did not help them by
testifying against Petitioner. As Ms. Williams
[Cynthia White] told me she didn't see who shot Officer Faulkner, I
asked her why she was "lying on that man" (Mumia Abu-Jamal).
She told me it was because for the police and vice threatened her
life. Additionally, the police were giving her money for
tricks. "The way she talked, we were talking "G's"
($1,000.00). She also said she was terrified of what
the police would do to her if she didn't say that Mumia shot Officer
Faulkner. According to Lucky (White), the police told
her they would . . . send her "up" . . . for a long time if she didn't
testify to what they told her to say. . . .
7. Lucky was
worried the police would kill her if she didn't say what they wanted. .
. . She was scared when she told me all of this plus she was crying and
shaking. Whenever she talked about testifying against
Mumia Abu-Jamal, and how the police were making her lie, she was nervous
and very excited and I could tell how scared she was from the way she
was talking and crying.
8. Lucky told
me that what really happened that night was that she was . . . in the
area . . . when Officer Faulkner got shot, but she definitely did not
see who did it. She also told me that she had a drug
habit and was high on drugs when it happened. She
tried to run away after the shooting, but the cops grabbed her and
wouldn't let her go. They took her in the car first
and told her that she saw Mumia shoot Officer
Declaration of Yvette Williams,
The declaration of Ms.
Williams does not merely provide direct contradiction of the prosecution's
key witness at trial, but it also materially undermines the integrity of
the case against Petitioner. The fact that the
prosecution witness testified falsely as a result of police inducement
taints all of the evidence upon which the prosecution relied at the
original trial, and offends the Constitution. Such
proof would not only have impeached White's testimony, but would have
created doubt about the motives and trustworthiness of law enforcement
personnel involved in this case. . . . The subornation of perjury from White results
in the inescapable conclusion that the investigating officers caused other
witnesses to lie, and that exculpatory and impeachment evidence was
suppressed. Evidence that White was coerced into lying
would have been far more significance than simply canceling out her
testimony, which in and of itself was of major significance.
It would raise a host of questions regarding why the police felt
the need to fabricate evidence. . . .
NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE DEMONSTRATES THAT PETITIONER WAS
FOUND GUILTY AND SENTENCED TO DEATH THROUGH THE USE OF A POLICE
FABRICATED CONFESSION IN VIOLATION OF THE FIFTH, SIXTH EIGHTH, AND
deprived of his right to a fair and reliable determination of guilt and
penalty, as guaranteed by the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments,
because of the state's reliance on a fabricated confession and by its
thwarting of defense efforts to expose that falsehood.
Newly discovered evidence has established that Priscilla Durham,
a hospital security guard who testified at trial to hearing Petitioner
allegedly confess, has since admitted to concocting the
story. Declaration of Kenneth Pate, Apr. 18, 2003. She admitted to Mr. Pate
that in fact she never heard Petitioner make any incriminating
statements. He recalls:
Sometime around the end of 1983 or the beginning of 1984 I had a
telephone conversation with Priscilla Durham in which the subject of
Mumia Abu-Jamal came up.
. . . .
Then Priscilla started talking about Mumia Abu-Jamal.
She said that when the police brought him in that
night she was working at the hospital. Mumia was all
bloody and the police were interfering with his treatment, saying
Priscilla said that the police told her that she was part of the
"brotherhood" of police since she was a security guard and that she had
to stick with them and say that she heard Mumia say that he killed the
police officer, when they brought Mumia in on a
I asked Priscilla: "Did you hear him say that?"
Priscilla said: "All I heard him say was "Get off me,
get off me, they're trying to kill me.
Declaration of Kenneth Pate, Apr. 18,
Ms. Durham was the only civilian to claim that Petitioner
admitted the shooting. There is a reasonable
probability that if the jury was informed that Durham was pressured by police into lying, it
certainly would have disregarded the alleged confession.
Without proof of a confession, there is a reasonable probability
that the verdict would have been different. . . .
Moreover, as in the situation of the fabricated testimony of
Cynthia White, disclosure of the pressure placed upon
Durham to falsely claim she heard the confession,
would likewise create a reasonable probability that the other witnesses
and evidence presented would be viewed by the jury with
skepticism. In effect disclosure that the police
caused both Durham and White to lie, would have brought into
question the credibility and legitimacy of the other evidence presented
again Petitioner. In that even the prosecution case
against Petitioner would have collapsed like a house of
By the prosecution
concealing evidence that two of its crucial witnesses lied, Petitioner
was deprived of his right to a fair trial and due process of law under
the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The petition filed on
behalf of him in the state court addressed both governmental
interference and newly discovered evidence that could not have been
discovered through the exercise of due diligence.
Both claims allege violations of recognized constitutional rights
under Amendments Five, Six, Eight and Fourteen. Both
claims allege the prosecutorial suppression of exculpatory material
evidence and the presentation of false evidence in contravention of the
right to a fair trial and due process of law guaranteed by the
Constitution . .
The newly discovered
facts establish that the police as part of the prosecution were involved
in obtaining false material testimony against Petitioner at
trial. The result compromised not only his fair trial
rights, but led to a death judgment that violated the very essence of
the Eighth Amendment.
The declaration of Yvette Williams discloses that Cynthia White
told her that she lied on the stand because she feared reprisals from
the police if she refused to do so. The declaration
of Kenneth Pate reveals that Priscilla Durham lied in testifying against
Petitioner because she was pressured to so by the police.
The witnesses' fears, created by the prosecution through the
police, not only explains the false testimony but also why the witnesses
did not come forward. The prosecutor in Petitioner's
trial had an absolute obligation to disclose the threats and efforts to
suborn perjury. . . . By suppressing exculpatory
evidence which included the fact that (a) a witness was persuaded to lie
that she had witnessed the homicide, and (b) another was encouraged to
manufacture a false confession attributed to Petitioner, contravened the
right to a fair trial, due process of law, and a fair penalty trial,
guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth
August 21, 2008, the Philadelphia District Attorney filed a brief in
opposition to the relief we seek on procedural grounds, that prior counsel
failed to raise the issues in a timely manner. Even though the
Supreme Court considers only an incredibly small number of cases at
this stage, we remain hopeful in view of the prosecution's egregious
in the year we will be going separately before the Supreme Court
concerning the denial of an entirely new trial by the U.S. Court of
Appeals for Third Circuit. That court did grant a new jury
trial on the question of penalty, life of death. Nonetheless, we are
pursing an entirely new trial. The issue of racism in jury
selection will be presented, along with the fact that the prosecutor made
misrepresentations to the jury in order to obtain a murder conviction
for Mumia's Legal Defense in the U.S. For
tax deductible donations to the legal defense, please make checks
payable to the National Lawyers Guild
Foundation (indicate "Mumia" on the bottom left).
They should be mailed to:
Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
I will not rest until Mumia is free. That he remains
in prison and on death row is a travesty of justice and an affront to
civilized standards. We must all continue to fight for what is
right, and not lose hope. Free Mumia.
Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal