HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) – A Philadelphia judge has allowed Mumia Abu-Jamal to launch a new appeal, ruling that a former chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court should have recused himself from the inmate’s previous appeals.
Abu-Jamal, 64, a former black nationalist and public radio reporter, was sentenced to death for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. His sentence was commuted to life without parole in 2011.
Judge Leon W. Tucker said former Chief Justice Ronald Castille should have stepped aside because his past service as Philadelphia District Attorney — the office which prosecuted Abu-Jamal — created an appearance of bias.
“True justice must be completely just without even a hint of partiality, lack of integrity, or impropriety,” Tucker wrote in his opinion issued late on Thursday. “Petitioner is entitled to an unbiased tribunal, without even the appearance of impropriety.”