[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] denied certiorari [order list, PDF] Monday in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal v. Beard [docket]. The Court offered no explanation for their refusal to hear the appeal of journalist and former Black Panther member Mumia Abu-Jamal [advocacy website, Philadelphia Inquirer backgrounder], sentenced to death for killing a police officer in Philadelphia in 1981. Abu-Jamal appealed his conviction based on the contention that there was an unfair representation of African Americans in the jury pool. Last year, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit refused to order a new trial but affirmed an allowance of a new sentencing hearing [JURIST report] in the case solely on the issue of life imprisonment or a death sentence. That portion of the case was overruled based on findings of incorrect jury instruction. If prosecutors decline to seek a new sentencing hearing, Abu-Jamal will automatically receive life in prison. The Supreme Court has yet to decide whether to hear the issue of the death sentence reinstatement.
Abu-Jamal was accused of killing police officer Daniel Faulkner [advocacy website] after Faulkner pulled over Abu-Jamal's brother for a traffic violation. The case has become a focal point for death penalty opponents, attracting the attention of artists, civil rights activists, and politicians.