December 7

files new memorandum of law with federal court
-- entire Pennsylvania Court Record

Attorneys for imprisoned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal today submitted to federal district court judge William H. Yohn
a 95-page memorandum of law. The memorandum documents the legal basis for each of the twenty-nine claims of constitutional violations asserted in Jamal's petition for a federal writ of habeas corpus. The memorandum also asserts an interpretation of how the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act should be applied to this case. The 1996 law was designed to restrict the use of federal writs of habeas corpus to overturn unjust convictions by state courts. It has the effect of restoring the doctrine of "states rights" that prevailed before the civil rights movement. One part of the 1996 law requires federal judges to give a "presumption of correctness" to findings of fact made by state courts. In Jamal's new memorandum his attorneys assert that the 1996 law still provides two grounds for habeas relief. The first is if the state court conviction is "contrary to" clearly established federal law. The memorandum asserts that this is the case for all 29 claims, and hence there is no need to determine the correctness of state court factual findings. The 95-page memorandum then details the federal court cases that support this claim. It also notes that key provisions of the 1996 have not yet been ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court. In the event that Judge Yohn does not accept the first argument, Jamal's attorneys go on to assert how the second basis of relief in the 1996 law should be applied in this case. This deals with cases in which conviction was based on an "unreasonable interpretation of the facts." Here Jamal's attorneys argue that application of the "presumption of correctness" language presupposes a full and fair hearing in the state court system. They assert that this was not the case -- an issue that would have to be decided prior to any application of "presumption of correctness." The memorandum announces that Jamal's attorneys will be presenting the court with a motion to set aside the state court's findings of fact completely as resulting from totally biased and corrupt proceedings. If this motion is rejected, Jamal's attorneys will present the court with a motion for an evidentiary hearing on twelve of the twenty-nine claims asserted.
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