District Attorney Larry Krasner is facing some unfair criticism on his decision to no longer oppose a judge’s ruling that clears the way for Mumia Abu-Jamal’s appeal for a rehearing of his conviction for the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner before the state Supreme Court.
Speaking at a rally for families that have been impacted by violence, FOP President John McNesby said “homicides are going up” under Krasner and “people are getting tired of it.”
“Something has got to be done,” he said. “I think everybody here has one thing at stake and that’s the city. And the city is not in a good place because of this district attorney.”
Maureen Faulkner, Faulkner’s widow, said that Krasner lied to her regarding his decision.
“What he did last week to me was deceitful. He lied to me, and it was like a stake through my heart,” Faulkner said. “He told me, ’Maureen, I will do anything for you. Mumia Abu-Jamal murdered your husband. There is no question about it. I will do everything in my power to keep him behind bars.’ That is what he told me.”
Faulkner said she believed Krasner received “a lot of pressure from the other side.” She also speculated that billionaire liberal George Soros, who donated to Krasner’s campaign, “may have put some pressure on Larry.”
The criticism of the district attorney for his decision on the Abu-Jamal case is unfair.
There is no evidence whatsoever that Krasner changed his views because of Soros. To suggest otherwise is inflammatory rhetoric. Nor is it fair to blame Krasner for the rise in violence in the city.
Krasner says he personally spoke with Faulkner the day before the appeal was withdrawn, as did two of the senior lawyers handling the case, and that she was notified the next day in writing that the appeal was formally dropped.
Abu-Jamal’s lawyers made a strong case that he deserves another appearance before the Supreme Court due to the failure of former Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ron Castille to recuse himself from his final appearance before the court in 2012, when he exhausted his appeals. Castille had been the district attorney as Abu-Jamal initially tried to overcome his conviction, and Abu-Jamal’s lawyers argued Castille’s former position created a conflict of interest when he was a judge.
Krasner initially opposed Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker’s December decision ordering a new hearing by the state Supreme Court.
The evidence that rejuvenated Abu-Jamal’s case is a 1990 letter Castille wrote to then-Gov. Bob Casey urging him to more quickly sign the execution warrants for death row inmates “to send a clear and dramatic message to all police killers that the death penalty in Pennsylvania actually means something.”
Tucker said since Abu-Jamal did not know about the letter at the time of his appeal, he could not point to it as justification for Castille to recuse himself. Tucker said Abu-Jamal deserves a new chance to make the case for his innocence to the state Supreme Court.
Krasner had initially pushed back, saying the opinion from Tucker was so broad that it had the potential to affect hundreds of closed cases. In a supplement to his opinion, Tucker elaborated on his ruling that Abu-Jamal did not receive a fair hearing because the former justice in question, Ron Castille, refused to recuse himself.
That expanded opinion was enough to cause Krasner to withdraw his opposition to Tucker’s decision.
“Our decision to withdraw the appeal does not mean Mr. Abu-Jamal will be freed or get a new trial. It means that he will have the appeals that Justice Castille participated in deciding reconsidered by a new group of appellate court judges, untainted by former Chief Justice Castille participating in their decision,” Krasner said in a statement.
Krasner will continue to face pressure from both sides on Abu-Jamal. He must make his decision on this emotionally charged case based on the facts and the law.