[Fwd: [BRC-MUMIA] More Complete Update on Mumia's Case]
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From: "C. Clark Kissinger" <cck1 at earthlink.net>
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 19:53:57 -0400
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Subject: [BRC-MUMIA] More Complete Update on Mumia's Case
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More Complete Update on Mumia's Case
from Clark Kissinger (10/28)
As reported yesterday, Mumia's legal team and the attorneys for the state of
Pennsylvania were asked to a meeting on Tuesday morning with federal judge
William Yohn in his chambers to "get acquainted." This was expected and is
usually the way a major case like this begins.
When they arrived at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, they were conducted into the
courtroom where Judge Yohn took the bench and went on the record. This was
totally unexpected since the defense team had not even filed the necessary
papers to allow them to appear in the federal district court for Eastern
Pennsylvania (they are from another federal court district).
There was no one else present in the courtroom except a Philadelphia
Inquirer court reporter. This is when Judge Yohn announced that he was
granting the stay of execution, although he did not sign it on the spot. [A
number of people have asked if the stay is permanent or temporary. Such
a stay is a temporary order, preventing the execution until the judge can
consider the petition to have Mumias original conviction overturned. Once
the case is ruled on by the judge, the stay will be vacated (ended)].
The judge asked where the trial record was, and the state said that they
would bring it in for him.
Since the petition submitted by Mumia's lawyers on October 16 contained only
the arguments regarding facts, the judge ordered them to submit a memorandum
of law citing the relevant legal precedents for the requests they have made
in their petition for a writ of habeas corpus. This is to be submitted by
The state then asked for 90 days to respond, but the judge gave them only 60
days to submit a reply (which would be by February 11). Then Len Weinglass
asked for 30 days to file a short rejoined to the states reply, and he was
given 20 days and a limit of 20 pages (this would be due on March 2).
After the judge gets all these papers, he will then set a date for the first
major court appearance, at which time Mumia will be present. Thus Mumia's
first court appearance could be in early March, but could be later depending
on the judge's calendar and case load.
Weinglass raised the issues of discovery (an order from the court to the
state to produce key documents) and an evidentiary hearing (where witnesses
would be questioned). The judge indicated that the 1996 Effective Death
Penalty Act made an evidentiary hearing unlikely, but he told Weinglass to
put his argument for such a hearing in his Dec. 7 filing. In response to the
judges questions, Weinglass indicated that were 10 to 15 (of the 29 issues
raised) on which he would like to present evidence, and he thought it would
take two or three weeks to do so. (If the judge denies an evidentiary
hearing, he will be in the position of condemning Mumia without even hearing
After Judge Yohn rules of some of the procedural points (perhaps in March),
such as discovery and an evidentiary hearing, there is expected to be
another round of legal briefs, followed by oral arguments.
Several other issues came up. First, the judge asked if Mumias attorneys
were aware that the state could depose Mumia. (They did know this.) Since
a petition of habeas corpus is a civil action, the respondents (those
named in Mumias petition as holding him illegally) are allowed to take a
deposition, that is, question Mumia under oath. (Mumia can have his
attorneys present if this happens.)
The judge indicated that Mumia will be present for all hearings in his
court, and he asked Mumias attorneys if they had any concern about Mumias
safety. Weinglass raised the issue that Sabo had allowed large numbers of
armed police in the courtroom. Judge Yohn said that there would be no armed
cops as spectators in his courtroom.
The judge also brought up the issue of the letters he has been receiving.
Weinglass asked if he had been receiving mail from both sides, and he
replied No, only for a new trial. He indicated that he didnt think it
would be correct for him to read them, and asked if Weinglass would accept
them (which he agreed to do). Later the judge mentioned that he had received
a very few letters opposing a new trial, and he would give these to the
Weinglass has already received over 500 letters directly from the public,
and he indicates that some of them are very moving and should be printed.
We cannot draw any definitive conclusions about this judge from this one
short encounter. A great range of this possibilities exist, from a worst
case scenario of no evidentiary hearing and a quick summary judgment against
Mumia; to a hearing with unknown results; to a summary judgment (without a
hearing) in Mumias favor.
The main thing we learned was the schedule of events for the next few
months. This does not mean that people can now relax. We are now on the
federal fast track, and every day counts in building the movement to save
and win a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
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