Judges' Statements


The following statements come from Federal judges who have reviewed Abu Ali's case. In spite of these opinions, to date there has been no relief granted to Abu Ali. How can this still be the case?

Judge Campbell (United States District Court, Middle District of Tennessee):

"In this case, there was an abundance of mitigation evidence available that was never used at trial."

"This is not a case where counsel collected and put on the significant mitigating evidence and merely failed to get everything. This is a case of no mitigating evidence - none - being offered to the jury despite its availability and abundance. Defense counsel was substantially ineffective and Petitioner was thereby deprived of a constitutionally fair trial."

"But the overwhelming nature of the evidence presented to this Court, a significant portion of which was not presented to the jury or the state courts, and the almost complete failure to present a defense at Petitioner's sentencing hearing, compels the Court's conclusion that Petitioner's death sentence cannot stand. The Constitution of the United States, and this Court's duty to uphold its principles, mandate the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus as to Petitioner's death sentence."

Judge Cole (United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit):

"Had counsel adequately performed, the jury weighing whether a death sentence was an appropriate punishment for Abdur Rahman would have had a representative picture of the person they were sentencing, instead of the one-sided account upon which they based their decision."

"Abdur Rahman has a constitutionally protected right to provide the jury with the mitigating evidence that his trial counsel either failed to discover or failed to offer. Given the total lack of mitigating evidence presented at Abdur Rahman's sentencing hearing, counsel's conduct so undermined the proper functioning of the adversarial process that the [sentencing hearing] cannot be relied on as having produced a just result."

Justice Birch (Tennessee Supreme Court):

"And ironically, when the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the United States District Court's lengthy, detailed holding that Abdur Rahman was 'seriously prejudiced' by his trial counsel's 'utterly ineffective' performance, its fundamental rationale was that the findings of the state post-conviction court, as upheld by the Court of Criminal Appeals, must be 'presumed correct'?. Hence, the cursory review [by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals] essentially barred Abdur Rahman from receiving appropriate consideration at the federal level. Such a result is, in my view, unacceptable."

Justice Stevens (United States Supreme Court):

"In the District Court petitioner filed a comprehensive memorandum supporting his submission that his Rule 60(b) motion should be granted. He has argued that the evidence already presented to the court proves that the prosecutor was guilty of serious misconduct; that affidavits executed by eight members of the jury that sentenced him to death establish that they would have not voted in favor of the death penalty if they had known the facts that the prosecutor improperly withheld or concealed from them; and that it is inequitable to allow an erroneous procedural ruling to deprive him of a ruling on the merits. In this Court, a brief filed by former prosecutors as amici curae urges us to address the misconduct, stressing the importance of condemning the conduct disclosed by the record. Arguably it would be appropriate for us to do so."