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Posted at 03:37 PM ET, 12/09/2011

Mumia Abu Jamal’s lawyer: Case not unique

Written by Jenée Desmond-Harris, The Root

Mumia Abu-Jamal, former radio reporter. (STEVEN M. FALK - AP)
Everyone has heard the phrase "Free Mumia" -- but Christina Swarns, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund's director of criminal practice, has been working for eight years to do just that. She's a member of the team that represented Mumia Abu-Jamal in appeals of his controversial murder conviction and death sentence for the 1981 murder of a white police officer.

The case of the former Black Panther, journalist and social commentator is known worldwide because of the widespread perception that he was the victim of an unjust and racist system.

Swarns and her colleagues saw a victory this week, when, after a court battle that spanned 30 years, Philadelphia prosecutors announced that they would drop their pursuit of the death penalty for Abu-Jamal.

The Root talked to Swarns about what the development means, what's next for her client and what the famous case represents about American criminal justice.

The Root : How does this development further the interests of justice?

CS: First of all, law for the worst of the worst offenders reserves the death penalty. And Mumia does not fit that description. He had zero history of violence, he was a family man, he was a journalist and he's been incarcerated for 30 years with no violence or disciplinary problems in prison. He's become a remarkable hinker and commentator on criminal-justice and social-justice issues. By no stretch of the definition does he meet the definition of worst of the worst. The death penalty for him was absolutely not appropriate.

Read the rest of the story at The Root.

By The Root  |  03:37 PM ET, 12/09/2011

Categories:  The Root DC Live

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