The Spisak Precedent
Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Case Stuck in Limbo
By DAVE LINDORFF
The recent decision by the US Supreme Court to send convicted police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case back down to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, with instructions for a three-judge panel there to reconsider its decision to uphold the lifting of the prominent African-American journalist’s death penalty, is only the latest in a long string of examples of how courts at all levels have made special exceptions to precedent in order to try and kill this particular prisoner.
The high court found on January 19, that Frank Spisak, a self-described Nazi and killer of three in Ohio, had been properly sentenced, because at the time the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed his death penalty on appeal, “settled law” was that the jury instructions given to his jury had been proper. And under the terms of the 1995 Effective Death Penalty Act, federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have to defer to the judgements of state courts unless those courts’ decisions are deemed “unreasonable.”
Story compliments of: Counterpunch.org