Thursday, December 17, 2020

D.A. Seeks To Free Mumia, Even Though He Knows He's Guilty

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The state Supreme Court has put District Attorney Larry Krasner on notice that if there are any further appeals in the case of celebrity cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, Krasner shouldn't stay on as prosecutor.

That's because of the appearance of several conflicts of interest in the D.A.'s office, state Supreme Court justices say, as well as other "disturbing" and "outrageous" goings-on under Krasner's reign. 

These critical statements from two state Supreme Court justices were released yesterday to accompany a one-page order where the state's highest court dismissed a King's Bench petition filed by Maureen Faulkner, widow of Police Officer Danny Faulkner. The widow was attempting to get the state Supreme Court to disbar Krasner as prosecutor in the endless, ongoing appeals of Mumia's 1982 conviction for her husband's murder.

The one-page order from the state Supreme Court been portrayed in the media as a defeat for Faulkner. But both a concurring and a dissenting statement issued by two state Supreme Court justices not only criticized Krasner for having the appearance of several conflicts of interest in the Mumia case, as well as being ignorant of the law. But one of those state Supreme Court statements also contained a startling admission under oath by Krasner --- that although he's been working to aid Mumia's release, the D.A. knows Mumia is guilty.

Yep, that's right. On April 22nd, at the direction of the state Supreme Court, Judge John Cleland, who was appointed special master to investigate alleged conflicts of interest by Krasner, deposed the D.A. And one of the questions Cleland asked Krasner was whether he thought Jamal was "guilty of this crime, that he committed a homicide."

Krasner's answer, which is sure to upset his Progressive base: “I believe that this conviction should be maintained, not only because I think it reflects accurately that [Abu-Jamal] is guilty, but it should be maintained because I see nothing to date indicating a reversal is appropriate.”

Krasner's declaration that he believes Mumia is guilty surprised George Bochetto, who as Faulkner's lawyer in the King's Bench appeal, sought to remove Krasner as prosecutor in the ongoing appeals over the Mumia conviction. 


Krasner's comments prove that he could "care less about the facts of the case, and about the impact on the victim," Bochetto said. "He just wants to aggrandize his own reputation as being George Soros’s gleaming light."


Bochetto was also stunned by what the legal battle waged in state Supreme Court revealed about Krasner's ignorance of the law.


 "The biggest criminal prosecution in the history of Pennsylvania and this man never looked at the law to see if it had changed in 20 years," Bochetto said.


About the state Supreme Court's decision, Bochetto said, "I think its clear that we have not left empty-handed. We now have an exact road map from the state Supreme Court about how and when and why to disqualify Krasner if he attempts to involve himself in any further Abu-Jamal appeals."


"The Supreme Court made it crystal clear," Bochetto said, that any further appeals by Abu-Jamal "should be be handled by the attorney general's office."


"We're going to be monitor the case very carefully, and the minute Krasner attempts to do anything about it we’re going to pounce and make sure he doesn’t," Bochetto said.

 

Regarding media accounts that Krasner had prevailed in the state Supreme Court's one-page order,  Bochetto likened it to reading the title of a book, and never bothering to open the book to see what it says.


Krasner and his official spokesperson, Jane Roh, have declined comment on the case, and did not respond to a request for comment from Big Trial, a stonewalling act from the D.A.'s office now in its 17th consecutive month.

 

In his 23-page concurring statement, state Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty wrote that he wanted to "address some of the troubling claims" raised by Faulkner's lawyers, "claims that may require closer judicial scrutiny should the DAO seek to continue its representation of the Commonwealth in any future proceedings in Abu-Jamal’s case."

Judge Cleland, Justice Dougherty wrote, determined that Faulkner's King's Bench petition “failed to establish the existence of a direct conflict of interest, which compromises the ability of the District Attorney or his assistants and staff to carry out the duties of his office." The petition likewise failed to establish “the existence of an appearance of impropriety that would compromise a reasonable person’s confidence in the capacity of the District Attorney or his assistants and staff to serve the fair and impartial administration of justice," Justice Dougherty wrote.

But as far as Justice Dougherty is concerned, "I believe [Faulkner] has actually made a colorable [legitimate] showing that the DAO is afflicted by (at the very least) the appearance of a conflict of interest such as to impede the fair and impartial administration of justice in Abu-Jamal's case," he wrote.

Justice Dougherty also viewed as "questionable" the D.A.'s decision to not oppose Mumia's request for a new trial in state Superior Court. Justice Dougherty also faulted Krasner for not following state Supreme Court procedures when it came to dealing with post-conviction appeals in Mumia's case.

Shortly after he took over as D.A., Krasner claimed to have found six boxes of newly discovered evidence in the Faulkner case lying around the D.A.'s office. But Krasner did nothing to verify whether anything in the boxes was really new, such as calling Joseph McGill, the original prosecutor in the case. McGill subsequently filed an affidavit on behalf of Faulkner, claiming there was indeed nothing new in those boxes. 

According to Justice Dougherty, Krasner claimed he didn't contact the original prosecutor in the case because he repeatedly asserted that “there’s some case law that can be interpreted to say that the prosecution really should not talk to any witnesses in a PCRA [Post Conviction Relief Act] matter.”

"In any event, District Attorney Krasner’s understanding," the justice wrote, "is equally wrong, as our opinion expressly states that nothing in the law specifically prohibits the Commonwealth from interviewing trial counsel when that counsel’s representation of a PCRA petitioner is under scrutiny."

The state Supreme Court justice also faulted Krasner for not following the state Supreme Court's legal standards for filing post-conviction appeals.

"When newly discovered evidence claims arise during a PCRA appeal, the proper course is for the petitioner to file a new PCRA petition upon resolution of the pending matter," the justice wrote.

"And despite touting himself as the final decision-maker for all strategic choices made in Abu-Jamal’s litigation, District Attorney Krasner also candidly admitted during his deposition that in formulating his decision not to oppose the remand request, he had not familiarized himself with the applicable legal standards," the justice wrote. 

“I wasn’t so focused on some sort of an academic analysis," Krasner told Cleland.

What Krasner should have done, according to the state Supreme Court, was to have contributed the six boxes of alleged new evidence to a new and entirely separate PCRA appeal. But what Krasner did was contribute to an existing PCRA appeal that was about to be dismissed on procedural grounds, because it was not filed in a timely fashion.

And when Mumia's lawyers asked for a remand, to send the case back to Common Pleas Court for a hearing, Krasner didn't fight it. Instead of playing the role of a traditional prosecutor, as an adversary, Krasner simply went along with the wishes of Mumia's lawyers.

"While I have no doubt that District Attorney Krasner credibly testified to his sincere belief that it would be in the best interest of all parties to concede to a remand under the circumstances, it is still disconcerting to me that a District Attorney would make such an important decision in this high-profile case without first considering whether the decision comports with the law," Justice Dougherty wrote.

"More troubling still are the comments District Attorney Krasner has made to the media suggesting that several former prosecutors who previously worked on Abu-Jamal’s case are 'war criminals,' " the justice wrote.

While Krasner defended the remark as "hyperbolic humor," the justice wrote, many others would find it "highly offensive." Justice Dougherty was also upset by a "racially-charged tweet aimed at [Faulkner] and her supporters" posted by Jane Roh, Krasner's official spokesperson, a tweet that Dougherty described as "utterly inappropriate."

Roh posted a Tweet mocking protesters who carrying "Dump Krasner" signs at a rally in support of Maureen Faulkner, because of their race.

"There's something about this picture can't qwhite put my finger on it . . ." Roh tweeted about the protesters.

Although the state Supreme Court decided to dismiss the King's Bench petition, Justice Dougherty wrote that "taken together, the circumstances surrounding this case paint a disturbing picture." Especially, the justice said, when considered "alongside the ever-growing number of documented instances suggesting a dereliction of duty on the DAO’s part with respect to other high-profile homicide cases."

The statements by the two state Supreme Court justices stated that Krasner's present PCRA appeal, the subject of the King's Bench petition, would be tossed, because it wasn't filed on a timely basis.

"Of course, it goes without saying that even once Abu-Jamal’s presently pending appeal is resolved, a new round of post-conviction proceedings in his case will almost certainly follow, based on the material that was recently disclosed to him by the DAO," Justice Dougherty wrote. "But unlike here, where petitioner had no remaining option but to resort to this Court’s King’s Bench jurisdiction, other statutory mechanisms for removing the DAO would be available in any future PCRA proceeding."

When the next appeal of Mumia's conviction is filed, Justice Dougherty wrote, Faulkner can ask the "President Judge of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to intervene, and request that the state Attorney General take over prosecution of the case."

Or, Dougherty wrote, "District Attorney Krasner could simply refer the case to the OAG based upon 'the potential for an actual or apparent conflict of interest on the part of the district attorney or his office,' " Dougherty wrote. "This latter path would undoubtedly alleviate all conflict concerns, remove the likelihood of further litigation on this issue, and advance the District Attorney’s asserted desire for a fair, full, and expedient resolution of Abu-Jamal’s claims."

And if Krasner insists on prosecuting the next appeal by Mumia, Justice Dougherty wrote, "It may well be encouraging more exacting judicial review of that decision in the future."

In a four-page dissenting opinion, state Supreme Court Justice Sallie Updike Mundy wrote, "Unlike my colleagues, I conclude that the record before us establishes an appearance of impropriety that warrants transferring this case from the District Attorney’s Office (DAO) to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG)."

Justice Mundy cited the presence of Paul George on Krasner's staff as a big problem. George, assistant supervisor of the D.A.'s Law Division, represented Mumia in past appeals, and "was not adequately screened" from the latest Mumia appeal, Justice Mundy wrote.

"The fact that an attorney who represented Abu-Jamal has a supervisory position in the Division of the DAO that 'oversees the PCRA Unit and the Appeals Unit' raises serious questions as to whether he could ever have been effectively screened from this matter in light of his responsibility for performance reviews of prosecutors involved in this case," she wrote.

George's present high-ranking position in the D.A.'s office "creates an appearance of a conflict," she wrote. Justice Mundy also considered Krasner's crack about former prosecutors being "war criminals" to be "outrageous and particularly disturbing."

"A prosecutor should refrain from making baseless and inflammatory remarks regarding former DAO attorneys," she wrote.

She added that she believed "the actions discussed above, viewed as a whole, would lead a reasonable person to perceive that the District Attorney and the DAO are unable to handle matters related to Abu-Jamal impartially. Accordingly, public confidence in the rule of law requires the involvement of the DAO in this matter to cease."

As far as Justice Mundy was concerned, the evidence in the latest Mumia appeal "supports removal of the DAO due to the appearance of a conflict of interest," she wrote. "Furthermore, I would remove the DAO now rather than revisit the issue in the future . . . Accordingly, I dissent."

7 comments

  1. Krasner wants to change the rules of baseball by giving a batter multiple chances to get on first base even though he struck out multiple times.

    Krasner's best friend the Only is becoming disingenuous in portraying this ruling as a victory for Abu -Jamal even though Krasner knows he is guilty of homicide. The many facial appeals filed on Abu-Jamal's benefits are still farcical as the facts in the case will never change as there is no evidence to absolve Abu-Jamal of the homicide he committed against Officer Faulkner 40 years ago.

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  2. He's GUILTY, but because MUMIA gunned down a police officer in cold blood, he ought to be freed because something something racism something white supremacy something something. That's more or less the line the left is coming up with.

    Honestly, fellow $oro$ Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro isn't much better, but at least he would probably try to fight the scumbag's appeals. Better not try to collect any evidence on anyone dumping multiple ballots in a collection box though, or Shapiro will be pissed!

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  3. Ralph. Thank you again for your thorough coverage. Once again the city's newspaper and news stations tell so little of the story. How can one support the "media" when this is again a prime example of slanting a story?

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    1. Because the public does not have all the facts, they do not know any better. The public is being told by the INKY that the truth matters now more than ever, they are telling us they are speaking the truth and we are to believe them.
      The INKY is in the prosecution business and needs to help the cases they believe in move forward or those who they deem guilty to be condemned. Journalist for the INKY believe they are fixing society's ills instead of allowing the truth to right the wrongs, instead of all the cases they had a hand in mismanaging.
      I used to ask how prosecutors slept at night, now I ask how INKY reporters sleep knowing what they did to harm a defendants chance at a fair trial or swaying the public in high profile cases to their advantage.

      Delete
  4. Ralph,

    Another good piece. I linked to your piece it on my website, www.pauldavisoncrime.com

    Paul

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  5. Where can I read the whole link?

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  6. Hi Ralph,
    Sorry to be troublesome, and for the length. I have questions about Mumia Abu-Jamal case.

    I should clarify first, I leaned pretty strongly Left a while ago but to the point of actual justice, not to the point of wanting ACTUAL criminals to go unpunished because of race. (I see some cases involve age/mercy; even Trump did some of that with lesser cases.)

    Anyhow, a lot of fairly recent awakening and transformation in my politics. I have dropped a lot of the delusions I had .. but I remember those. This can be useful online with Progressives I know.

    I like Colin Flaherty and also this Black guy
    https://youtu.be/7bkcmrHb6Lc
    a former "hood neggah" lightweight criminal who tells what it's like, after he grew up and became a family man.
    He talks about Soros. I think he talks about Krassner.

    I have been APPALLED at some of the cases of killers going free AND becoming some kind of civil rights heroes for murdering random White people. Like murders are reparations? "Cosmic justice" to quote Thomas Sowell?

    And the exaggerations. Even the horrific past era of lawless lynchings (extra-judicial executions, especially taking a suspect away from police custody to kill them), today's annual murder stats exceed 100 years of racist lynchings. Killing not over "hopelessness" but stupid arguments. Killing over just being mad and wanting to kill a stranger, destroy something beautiful. (Frequent delusional talk on helpless rage over chronic injustice, that exacerbates that attitude.)

    But, WHO WOULDN'T BE in favor of actual social justice vs injustice? It's a question of accuracy and methods.

    I slowly came to understand more about how tough it can be for good cops (Think like a Cop channel, etc.)

    >> So that's where my compass is pointed these days. <<

    Yet I remember reading the very detailed DETAILS about the Mumia incident, in which MAJ was nearly fatally wounded, and how he expected to be acquitted because (he says) he was in fact not guilty, and how he naively believed justice would prevail in court. That hit me.

    How nobody checked his hands for gunpowder, how the cops had threatened or bribed prostitutes to testify against him, ridiculously ineffective counsel, unable to get to cross examine a cop witness due to "vacation", and much more alleged court shenanigans.

    Ultimately, that the DA cited his childhood affiliation with the local Black Panthers to paint him as a vicious cop-killer decades later. And that he had reported harshly on Rizzo as a journalist, on the Africa house.

    I'm not going to try to cite every detail, but supposedly newspaper reporters present remarked on some of the severely impactful improper procedures they witnessed in the courtroom.

    I had tuned in to Democracy Now -- a mainstream Left broadcaster -- and felt this affinity with his speech, and some incredulity that an articulate rational-speaking former journalist, with compassion for the poor, would shoot a cop in cold blood for no justifiable reason, over his estranged brother getting a simple traffic ticket.

    Sometimes crazy shizzle like that happens today -- I saw some on body cams -- leaving me uncertain of past beliefs I held about Mumia.

    Some time after that, his former prosecutor became elevated to a new job, as Mumia's new appellate judge. No win.

    MAJ also wondered if Faulkner had been involved as a snitch, with Feds later busting a crime ring of crooked Philly cops, running prostitution and gambling. That maybe Faulkner got assassinated by those bad cops. A bizarre conspiracy theory, BUT that could happen, if the cops were REALLY that bad into crime.

    HAVING SAID THAT, I KNOW I COULD HAVE BEEN DUPED, so maybe his story wasn't really what happened in the courtroom. All that would remain would be dry paper judgments. Any flavor of the proceedings would necessarily be missing.

    Do YOU know?

    Please comment, SINCERE QUESTIONS.

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