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Philly DA Office Must Provide All Records of Top Judge’s Role as DA in Opposing Mumia Appeal

An opening to challenge Abu-Jamal’s conviction

He stated for example that he had never "personally" participated in any aspect of the Abu-Jamal case as District Attorney. Using convoluted reasoning, Castille claimed that just because he had signed his name on DA Office filings opposing Abu-Jamal’s appeals as a “formal administrative requirement,” such actions did not prove that he had been “personally and directly involved” with those filings.

Yet, years before that decision, back when he was running for a seat on the state’s top court, a former top aide to Castille told a local reporter that his old boss, as District Attorney, "was involved in death penalty cases" and that he particularly had been involved in "high-profile cases."

Since the Abu-Jamal case was both a death penalty case and a high-profile case, either Castille's top aide misstated his ex-bosses' role or Castille misrepresented it.

When Castille campaigned for his Supreme Court seat, he told voters in his campaign literature that he had been a “hands-on” DA. But when Abu-Jamal called for the former DA to recuse himself as a judge in ruling on his appeal, Castille claimed the exact opposite: that he had been a hands-off administrator as DA and that his role as DA would not affect his ability to be impartial as a justice.

Castille further claimed in his written rejection of Abu-Jamal’s recusal request that his participation in ruling granting relief to another Philadelphian convicted of killing a cop proved that he could be fair in Abu-Jamal’s case.

In that cop killing ruling that Castille authored, Castille stated that it was improper for a Philadelphia prosecutor to dramatize that defendant’s drug dealing in arguing for a death penalty against that drug dealer. But in the Abu-Jamal case, Castille contended it had been proper for Philadelphia Assistant DA Joe McGill to smear Abu-Jamal for his Black Panther Party membership as a young teenager when seeking the death penalty. The thing is, Abu-Jamal’s BPP a membership had ended 12 years before his arrest in the shooting death of Officer Faulkner, while the drug dealer cited by Castile had been involved in a series of violent drug-related incidents, including on the day he killed the policeman. (Abu-Jamal did not have an arrest record like the drug dealer cited by Castille.)

Castille took his bizarre reasoning further into the realm of the absurd when he brushed off his long association with Philadelphia’s FOP police union. Not only did he deny any improper influence from his FOP associations and the financial support he had received in his various political campaigns from the union; he also declared that Abu-Jamal was unfairly criticizing him without criticizing the four other Supreme Court justices on the bench who had also received campaign support from the FOP. Those four court colleagues of Castille also voted against Abu-Jamal's appeal.

Castille, in defending himself against any FOP taint, exposed the indefensible underpinning of that 1998 ruling: the fact that five members of that seven-member Court had received FOP support –- a prime example of the grounds listed in the judicial ethics code for their impartiality being reasonably questioned.

Castille wrote: “If the FOP’s endorsement constituted a basis for recusal, practically the entire court would be required to decline participation in this appeal.”



story | by Dr. Radut