July 25, 2007

In Memory of Harmon Wray

We lost a close friend and supporter when Harmon Wray passed away this week. Harmon worked hard for Abu Ali during some critical times. We knew we could always turn to Harmon for help when we needed it. Harmon's passing leaves a big hole in our community, and we will miss him. 

Our thoughts go out to Harmon's life partner Judy Parks, and his mother Celeste Wray.

Harmon Wray
1946 - 2007

July 16, 2007
Dear Friends:

It has been awhile since we've had news to report on Abu Ali's case. Unfortunately, I write you today with news that is not positive.

On Friday the 13th of July, Abu Ali received bad news from the 3-judge panel on the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which presides over his case. In a 2-to-1 decision, with a strong dissent from Judge Cole, Abu Ali’s appeal was dismissed.

Ironically, this decision came on the 20th anniversary of the first day of Abu Ali’s ”trial” (which began on July 13, 1987). Actually, what happened in 1987 was not a trial at all. The prosecutor lied and presented a false case to the jury, the defense lawyer did absolutely nothing to defend Abu Ali, and the resulting verdict was a complete miscarriage of justice. Since then, as the real evidence has been revealed, 8 out of 9 jurors who have been found have signed statements stating that they would not have voted for the death penalty if they had known the truth about Abu Ali and the circumstances of the offense. In Tennessee, if just one juror votes for life, the defendant will not receive the death penalty.

Since then Abu Ali has been fighting to have his day in court – something that should be guaranteed to every citizen by our Constitution. At every step of the way, however, the courthouse door has been slammed in Abu Ali’s face, often over strong dissenting opinions by judges who understand the fundamentally flawed nature of the legal proceedings in Abu Ali’s case.

Remarkably, for the second time Abu Ali’s case was dismissed by two judges on the Sixth Circuit on a ground that was never argued by the prosecution. In 2000 these judges reinstated Abu Ali’s death sentence on the supposed ground that Abu Ali was not “prejudiced” by the complete failure of his defense lawyer at trial – an argument that the prosecution never made to the Sixth Circuit because the evidence clearly showed prejudice. This time, these same two judges fabricated a legal technicality to avoid looking at or discussing Abu Ali’s serious and unchallenged evidence of prosecutorial misconduct – an unfounded technicality that the prosecution never even tried to argue to the Sixth Circuit.

Although Abu Ali’s case has bounced from court to court over the past 20 years, no state or federal court has ever decided the merits of Abu Ali’s claims in light of all of the evidence that has been uncovered. Federal Judges Campbell and Cole, United States Supreme Court Justice Stevens, and Tennessee Supreme Court Judge Birch have all written that Abu Ali deserves better treatment than this. But their words have been ignored by those judges who have radically different political points of view.

Abu Ali will continue to fight in court. But at the same time Abu Ali needs the support of our community. We all need to declare our outrage at the way the legal system has treated Abu Ali. It is vitally important that the courts and the Governor hear our voice, so that eventually Abu Ali’s voice can also be heard by those in power.

Please watch for updates in Abu Ali's case, as well as e-mails about action you can take to raise awareness on Abu's behalf.