Today was a good day for Pennsylvania and for the United States and for anybody who cares about our criminal justice system and the integrity of that system.Now, let's take a look at the facts. The Washington Post has a good summary:
Mumia Abu-Jamal was a cold blooded murderer who shot and killed Danny Faulkner when Danny Faulkner lie helpless, wounded, and unarmed on his back on a street in Philadelphia.
What later happened was sickening. A campaign to turn Mumia Abu-Jamal somehow into a victim, to make him a celebrity and to use him to run a political campaign that would attack America, condemn America as a racist society and indict our criminal justice system.
It made a mockery of what this country stands for and our justice system and the fact that Debo Adegbile would participate in this campaign through his supervision of the LDF attorneys who were actively participating in it, in my view, disqualified him from such an important post as the head of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.
Today a majority of my senate colleagues agreed with me, including seven Democrats and all the Republicans. I appreciate the bipartisan support and the support of the FOP, across Pennsylvania especially, the Philadelphia FOP. I appreciate the support of Seth Williams, the District Attorney of Philadelphia.
And I am very pleased with the outcome of this vote.
It's the cop-killing that won't go away.So it wasn't about guilt or innocence of Abu-Jamal, was it? It was about his death sentence and whether the decision to impose it was reached fairly. Turns out it wasn't.
More than 30 years have passed since the Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted and sentenced to death for the killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. But the case remains an internationally-known political lightning rod. And, this week, lightning is striking in D.C.
The latest incarnation of the Abu-Jamal trial comes as it threatens to derail the nomination of Debo P. Adegbile, President Obama's nominee to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. He previously worked as legal counsel to the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund, which helped Abu-Jamal get his death sentenced overturned and has represented him at various points since.
But before we go on, let's take a look at the Post's very next paragraph:
While Adegbile's involvement with the Abu-Jamal case was limited -- and came well after the death sentence was tossed -- Faulkner's widow, the Fraternal Order of Police, and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have mounted a crusade to block the nomination. And recent development suggest they might prevail.And they did, of course. Despite the fact that Adegbile's involvement was limited and came well after the death sentence was tossed.
Back to the case. This is from the LDF:
Mr. Abu-Jamal is on death row in Pennsylvania for the 1981 murder of a police officer in Philadelphia. His death sentence was vacated in 2001 after the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found constitutional error in the jury instructions and verdict form used in his 1982 penalty phase. That decision was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 2008 but then sent back to the Third Circuit by the United States Supreme Court in 2010 for further review.By the way, the Judge who issued that ruling, William Yohn, was appointed by George H. W. Bush (a Republican President of the United States). The (H. W.) Bush-appointed Yohn was the one who tossed the death sentence and sent it to the Third Circuit for review.
The three judge panel of the Third Circuit that affirmed the Yohn's judgement included Chief Judge Anthony J. Scirica (who wrote the opinion) and Judge Robert Cowen, who were both appointed by Ronald Wilson Reagan (another Republican President of the United States).
That same (mostly Reagan-appointed) three judge panel reaffirmed its earlier decision in 2011. It is about this time is when the Adegbile supervised LDF got involved in this case:
On January 28, 2011, Mumia Abu-Jamal retained the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) to represent him in the ongoing appeal of his capital murder conviction and death sentence. LDF will serve as co-counsel in the case with Judy Ritter, Esq., of Widener Law School in Wilmington, Delaware, who has represented Mr. Abu-Jamal since 2003.So what was Adegbile's sin according to Senator Toomey? Defending (or whatever attorneys call it) the 2008 decision by a mostly Republican-appointed panel of judges that this mostly Republican appointed panel then reaffirmed a few months later. It was about protecting the constitutional rights of someone found guilty of murder.
Even those found guilty of murder have constitutional rights, you know.
But punishing the attorneys who defend that idea is "protecting the integrity of the criminal justice system" to Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey. You're wrong, Senator. This was not a good day for those who believe in the criminal justice system. Shame on you.
And we can not forget the other Pennsylvania Senator, Bob Casey (a Democrat), who also voted against his party and against his President in voting against Debo Adegbile's confirmation.
Good going, Senator. When you're on the same side as Pat Toomey, you're almost always on the wrong side of an issue. Without a doubt. Shame on you, too.