Outburst by cop’s widow gets her ejected from courtroom in Mumia Abu-Jamal hearing
Judge Leon Tucker granted a 30-day extension to Jamal's attorneys, who say they are trying to recover a document they claim helps to show that former state Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille violated Abu-Jamal's constitutional rights when he didn't recuse himself from appeal reviews.
Maureen Faulkner stood up in court Monday morning and cried out to the judge who had just given her husband's convicted killer 30 more days to appeal.
"With all due respect, your honor," Faulkner said to Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker, her voice breaking. "I have another 30 days that I have to go through this pain and suffering?"
Tucker had just extended the appeal hearing of Mumia Abu-Jamal in the fatal shooting of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981. Maureen Faulkner had flown in from California, hoping her long ordeal would come to an end.
Instead, Tucker granted a 30-day extension to Abu-Jamal's attorneys, who say they are trying to recover a document they claim helps to show that former state Supreme Court Justice Ronald D. Castille violated Abu-Jamal's constitutional rights when he did not recuse himself from appeal reviews.
As sheriff's officers pulled at the sleeve of her maroon sweater and pleaded with her to calm down, her voice rose toward the judge.
"I've been fighting back and forth!"
"Have a seat," Tucker said.
"I have been fighting!"
"Please remove her from the courtroom," Tucker said.
"Thirty-eight years!" Faulkner yelled as she was escorted out. "This is wrong!"
After her exit, the judge said, "The courtroom is sensitive to both sides.
"The court is not going to rush to judgment in this matter," he added. "So, just to be clear, no matter how long it takes, this court is going to do the right thing."
The now 64-year-old Abu-Jamal is serving a life sentence for the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Daniel Faulkner at 13th and Locust Streets.
Abu-Jamal, held at the State Correctional Institution-Mahanoy in Schuylkill County, did not attend the hearing.
"It's difficult," the judge said. "I'll be candid. It's a difficult case."
The core argument by Abu-Jamal's defense is that because Castille had been involved in the case as Philadelphia district attorney from 1986 to 1991, he should have recused himself as a Supreme Court justice during appeals.
The defense is hoping that Tucker finds that Castille was biased, and that Abu-Jamal gets a new appellate review by a higher state court and possibly a new trial.
The lawyers contend that two memos written by Castille when he was district attorney showed he had a significant involvement in pushing for Abu-Jamal to be executed. But Assistant District Attorney Tracey Kavanagh, supervisor of the District Attorney's Post Conviction Relief Unit, told Tucker that this allegedly missing memo hasn't been found.
Judith Ritter, one of Abu-Jamal's lawyers, said she sent a new right-to-know request to the Pennsylvania State Senate Judiciary Committee for documents. She said they are waiting on that request so the judge has all of the information.
They also point to a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a different case, in which a majority of the justices found that Castille was wrong to have participated in an appeal to the state Supreme Court by another convicted Philadelphia killer.
In a hallway after the hearing, Faulkner apologized for her outburst, but said she was tired of the prolonged pain.
"My emotions got the best of me," she said. "I mean, when is this case going to end for us?"
Meanwhile, more than a dozen protesters on both sides of the case demonstrated outside the courthouse.