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No Death Penalty for Mumia:  Kathy Matheson of the Associated Press reports Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced Wednesday his decision to call off the 30-year battle to put former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal to death for the killing of a police officer. Williams said continuing to seek the death penalty would open the case up to "an unknowable number of years" of appeals. "While Abu-Jamal will no longer be facing the death penalty, he will remain behind bars for the rest of his life, and that is where he belongs," he said. Abu-Jamal was convicted of fatally shooting police officer Daniel Faulkner in December 1981, and was sentenced to death the following year. His conviction was upheld through years of legal appeals, but a federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing after ruling that the jury instructions were potentially misleading. When the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case in October, prosecutors were forced to decide if they wanted to pursue the death penalty again with a new sentencing hearing or take a life sentence. Faulkner's widow said the judges who overturned Abu-Jamal's death sentence are "dishonest cowards" who oppose the death penalty. She said she is "heartened that he will be taken from the protective cloister he has been living in all these years and begin living among his own kind -- the thugs and common criminals that infest our prisons."

U.S. Supreme Court Considers Whether Lab Analysts Should Testify at Trial:
Robert Barnes of The Washington Post reports the Supreme Court Tuesday again considered whether the people who conduct forensic tests for law enforcement must be available for questioning at trial. The Supreme Court has long been divided over what rights criminal defendants have to confront those testifying against them. Since 2004, the court has decided a string of cases interpreting the Sixth Amendment's confrontation clause in favor of criminal defendant's. On Tuesday the court considered the case of convicted rapist Sandy Williams of Chicago in Williams v. Illinois. In 2000, police recovered DNA evidence from a woman who was raped and sent it to Cellmark Diagnostic Laboratory. The company later returned the samples along with a male DNA profile it had developed from the evidence. Police had taken a DNA sample from Williams after his arrest for another crime.  After Williams' DNA was found to match the sample taken from the crime scene, the victim picked Williams from a lineup.  At trial the state forensic analyst  testified about how law enforcement made the match, but because the Cellmark report was not introduced as evidence, the judge said that the state did not have to produce an analyst from Cellmark to testify about how it performed the tests.  Williams appealed his conviction claiming that the judge's ruling was unconstitutional.

Blagojevich Sentenced to 14 Years for Corruption: Michael Tarm and Don Babwin of the Associated Press report former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday for trying to sell an appointment to the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. Blagojevich is the fourth former Illinois governor to be sentenced to prison in the last four decades. The twice-elected Blagojevich was initially elected in 2002 after running on a platform of cleaning up Illinois politics in the midst of federal investigations that ultimately led to the conviction of his predecessor, George Ryan. The sentence came after two trials, in which jurors at his retrial found him guilty on 17 of 20 counts, and nearly three years to the day of his arrest.

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Maureen Faulkner's words are profound.

Indeed, the cognoscente will need to find another unworthy poster boy.

Knowing how Abu-Jamal reveled in the attention his case garnered, I wonder how he will adjust to the ouster from his "protective cloister."

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