Prolonged Case Of Mumia Abu-Jamal Takes Another Turn
J: Welcome to the program. Thank you for joining us.
CRAIG GREEN: Thank you, Michel.
: First of all, why has this case attracted so much attention? It's been the subject of four documentaries that I know of, many books, some 25 municipalities around the world have made Mumia Abu-Jamal an honorary citizen. Why do you think it's attracted so much attention?
GREEN: So on the one hand, it's a very vivid murder story, and on the other hand, it's everything that's thought to be wrong with the criminal justice system.
: So let me ask you: What is the strongest evidence in support of his guilt, and what's the strongest evidence in support of his innocence?
GREEN: So procedural errors really are the root of the other side, I think, arguments that the system is stacked and further arguments that the prosecutor's office, the police office, applied criminal justice - and particularly the death penalty - in a racially motivated way against a Black Panther who was on the scene with a dead cop.
: Well, it's my understanding, though, that one of the arguments in support of his innocence is that many of these people who claimed that he made these statements and so forth were either coerced or later recanted them, and I wanted to know whether that's true.
GREEN: There have been other witnesses who, from time to time, Mumia's attorneys have tried to introduce to try to prove his innocence or to cast more doubt on the prosecutor's story. But I think that at this stage, 20, 30 years later, if there's a retrial or a resentencing, then I think it would be extremely difficult for the prosecution to expect to win, which is why the prosecutors are so concerned to get finality.
: What is the next legal step?
GREEN: So this is another story, from our perspective today, about how long these cases can be drawn out and how expensive and costly and difficult it can be, even when there is substantial amount of evidence of guilt, how difficult it is to apply the death penalty and how much controversy it stirs up.
: Do you feel comfortable hazarding a prediction about what will happen in the end?
GREEN: I don't. I mean, the only thing I can predict is more legal fights. That's very predictable, and I think that this case will remain in the public eye because it is such a compelling story about police death and also about criminal justice system irregularities and procedural violations.
: Craig Green is associate professor of Law at Temple University's School of Law. He joined us from Philadelphia. Thank you so much for speaking with us.
GREEN: Thank you, Michel.
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