Judith Ritter, a Widener University law professor who represents Abu-Jamal, said the state had “long ago abandoned the confusing and misleading instructions and verdict slip” that were relied on at Abu-Jamal’s trial in order to “prevent unfair and unjust death sentences.” Williams said that the jury instructions were “fair and appropriate” when Abu-Jamal was sentenced and that he has “to apply the laws that were in place” in 1982. Yesterday’s ruling was the latest in a 29-year legal drama that is likely to continue for years. Abu-Jamal has become a cause célèbre among foes of capital punishment.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams will appeal a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals yesterday awarding convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal a new sentencing, says the Philadelphia Daily News. Abu-Jamal, 57, was convicted in 1982 of killing police officer Daniel Faulkner and was sentenced to death. The appeals court says there should be a new sentencing hearing because death-penalty jury instructions were misleading.