Appeals Court Won't Step Down From Abu-Jamal Case
By MARYCLAIRE DALE
Associated Press Writer
A federal appeals court said Friday it will not step down from death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal's case, paving the way for a key hearing next month.Prosecutors had asked outside judges to hear the case because the husband of 3rd U.S. Circuit Judge Marjorie O. Rendell was district attorney during Abu-Jamal's 1982 trial. They said that created the appearance of a conflict.Judge Rendell, who is married to Gov. Ed Rendell, and three colleagues on the Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit instead recused themselves for reasons not disclosed in the two-page ruling.
The removal of those four judges leaves numerous others to serve on the three-judge panel hearing the case, the order said. The panel members have not been announced.Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther and radio reporter, has been on death row for a quarter-century for the 1981 slaying of white Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Faulkner.In Abu-Jamal's appeal, he argues that city prosecutors routinely removed qualified blacks from juries. Prosecutors deny the charge, but the 3rd Circuit has agreed to hear Abu-Jamal's lawyers argue the point at a scheduled May 17 hearing.