A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge ruled Thursday that convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal can reargue an appeal before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court because then-Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille did not recuse himself from the case despite his prior role as the Philadelphia district attorney. Philadelphia Judge Leon Tucker ruled Thursday that Castille should have recused himself because of statements he made as a prosecutor about police killers that suggest a potential bias. They include campaign speeches and letters advocating the issuance of death warrants in such cases. The ruling gives Abu-Jamal the chance to reargue his appeal. However, Judge Tucker denied Abu-Jamal’s claim that Castille had “personal significant involvement” in his case due to lack of evidence.
“Judge Tucker recognized the unconstitutional bias,” said Judith L. Ritter, an attorney for Abu-Jamal, in a statement. “This was a straightforward application of federal and Pennsylvania law requiring cases to be decided by judges whose impartiality cannot reasonably be questioned.”Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, is currently serving a life sentence for the 1981 death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.