Post Supreme Court Interview with Mumia
1) Post Supreme Court Interview with Mumia MP3
2) Post Supreme Court Interview with Mumia AIF
Transcript of Interview 4-6-09
Noelle Hanrahan Prison Radio: Mumia, what’s your reaction?
Mumia Abu-Jamal: Well all I know is, you know, what Christina told me. So there’s nothing. There’s nothing to read. There is no order, other than my name is on a list of Cert denied.
Noelle Hanrahan: That’s right.
Mumia Abu-Jamal: So we don't know anything. And you know, if it is the Batson issue, then it just shows you that precedent means nothing, that the law is politics by other means and that the constitution means nothing. That a fair jury means nothing.
Noelle Hanrahan: You said when I just first talked to you something about that it’s another day and how many days?
Mumia Abu-Jamal: Another day? Three decades.
Noelle Hanrahan: When did you stop being surprised?
Mumia Abu-Jamal: When I was at pretrial hearing before Judge Sabo,and he denied the motion. I knew then that he wasn’t working with the constitution. It did surprise me, and it really shocked me because, I’d read the cases. I knew what the law was. I knew what the law books said the law was. I learned then that they’re not going by that kind of law, and apparently they’re not going by that kind of law now. If you read Batson and you read my case then it’s almost as if you’re in two different universes. And in fact you are. You are.
Noelle Hanrahan: Are there different rules for what type of people?
Mumia Abu-Jamal: Well there’s always been different rules for Black people, you know. If you read Batson, whatwill surprise people who have never done so, it has nothing to do with the accused, the defendant, the person on trial. Batson, in its own terms, says it protects the rights of those people who are allegedly American citizens, who are denied the right to serve as jurors. That’s what it says, that’s what it says. But in fact, how does it do that when it allows people to be removed, after Batson became law, for spurious reasons? Batson can be bested and beaten by exactly the way the DA's office said it could be beaten: by lying, and by getting up and saying, "Well no, we didn’t have any racist reasons, and ah we just ah, we’re not…” Listen, listen to the video tape. YOU HAVE SIXTY SECONDS REMAINING Listen to the video tape and if that doesn't tell you all you need to know then you are deaf dumb or blind.
Noelle Hanrahan: Whose video tape?
Mumia Abu-Jamal: The video tape of the DA, the training videotape of Jack McMahon of the Philadelphia's DA office from 1986.
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Here's a link to excerpts of Ass't DA McMahon's training video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv9SJPa_dF8
Check that short piece out (57 secs), and then please re-read this piece Mumia wrote last year:
Beating Back Batson
[col. writ. 9/6/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal
For those who read court opinions, few can ignore the U.S. Supreme Court's 1986 Batson v. Kentucky decision.
Essentially, it prohibited the State from removing Black jurors for racial reasons. It re-wrote the rules from the Swain v. Alabama ( 1965) case, where the court required systematic discrimination over a number of cases, over a period of years. Needless to say, such a challenge was clearly beyond the resources of most people, and relatively few were made, and even fewer successful. It is hard to resist the suspicion that this was merely judicial lip service to a principle that was easily ignored, in the breach.
For, it took over a generation, over 20 years, for Swain to be overruled by Batson, and now, Batson is beginning to bear an eerie resemblance to its unworkable parentage, because courts have been loathe to grant relief, and have either created new rules, or simply ignored its dictates.
We see this at work recently in a number of cases, among them Com. v. (Robert) Cook, WL 284060 (July 24, 2008). In this case, the DA used 74% of his strikes to remove 14 Black jurors. Incredibly, the Phila. Court of Common Pleas initially found that even this didn't constitute a prima facie case of discrimination. Later, it found a prima facie case, but ruled that the DA put forth sufficient race-neutral reasons for exclusion, and therefore not a violation of Batson.
Recently, the PA Supreme Court agreed, even though the DA couldn't recall why he removed 2 Black jurors -- or, in other words, couldn't articulate a justification.
Now remember -- Batson states that the improper removal of one juror violates the constitution. One -- not 14.
But here's the kicker. The DA in Mr. Cook's case made a video training tape, where he taught his fellow prosecutors how to violateBatson - and how to lie about it to judges.
But perhaps the then prosecutor, Jack McMahon, didn't need to work that hard, for courts would take up the slack. For where the DA can't remember a reason, the court will invent one.
This is especially egregious in this case, for the man who wrote the opinion was the DA when McMahon made the tapes, but now sits as Chief Justice of the court. Can you spell 'conflict of interest?' Did he recuse himself? (What do you think?)
For over a decade, Pennsylvania courts have painted McMahon as the bad guy, a kind of rogue prosecutor, and most of his convictions have been reversed (except Cook's), but McMahon wasn't, and never should've been, the issue. For he was simply describing the pattern and practice of the office, and training his colleagues in techniques used over years of trials.
Mr. McMahon was putting into words what DAs did to get convictions. Does that mean his office sought a fair and impartial jury? In McMahon's words, " Well, that's ridiculous. You're not trying to get that." In fact, McMahon explained, their jobs were to get the most "unfair" jury possible. And, in many cases, that meant getting as few Blacks to serve on the jury as possible.
Batson is as empty as Swain was, for if they don't want to give it up, any reason will do.
They proclaim ideals of fairness that bear no relationship to the real process happening daily in courtrooms all across America.
That would be, to quote McMahon, "ridiculous."