EXECUTING JUSTICE: An Inside Account of the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Daniel R. Williams, Author, E. L. Doctorow, Foreword by EXECUTING JUSTICE: An Inside Account of the Case of Mumia A $24.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-312-27666-9

Despite the deluge of books about the sensational murder case of activist-journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, none is as comprehensive or as forthcoming about the tangle of legal maneuvers and missteps in his controversial trial as this one is. Williams, the death row inmate's defense lawyer and chief case strategist, offers a slew of previously unrevealed details about the lengthy battle to appeal Abu-Jamal's 1982 conviction for the murder of a Philadelphia policeman. After an impassioned foreword by E.L. Doctorow, the book embarks upon a relentless analysis of the facts of the case that has captured international attention and drawn widespread support. Williams attacks the Pennsylvania courts' refusal to grant an appeal by systematically picking apart the testimony of the prosecution's key witnesses—a former prostitute, a young white man on probation and two eyewitnesses who could not positively identify Mumia as the shooter. Williams confronts what he sees as "irregularities" in the convicted prisoner's supposed confession, as well as in the ballistics and medical evidence. His measured and detailed discussion also puts the case into the broader legal context of Philadelphia politics during the civil rights era and racial biases in death penalty litigation in America, pointing out shortcomings in the jury selection process, for example. Possibly most startling is Williams's careful chronicle of Abu-Jamal's trial and ensuing appeals, which provides a far more thorough view of the proceedings than previous accounts. While no one opposed to Mumia' s radical beliefs will be completely swayed by this book's findings, Williams's terse and lengthy arguments raise intriguing questions about how justice has been served in this high-profile case and should challenge many readers' preconceptions. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/09/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
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Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-312-28317-9
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