It was reported last year that convicted cop-killer and polarizing figure, Mumia Abu-Jamal gave the commencement address at Goddard College in Vermont. The fact that the speech was happening was controversial, just like the accounts of what happened the night Abu-Jamal was arrested. It went on anyway. However, shortly after the speech, Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett signed the Revictimization Relief Act, a law meant to prevent convicts from causing their victims/victims’ families to experience a temporary or permanent “state of anguish.” In other words, convicts or ex-cons can be sued for behavior “which perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime on the victim.”
Abu-Jamal’s speech was seen in this light. Although Mumia didn’t speak about Daniel Faulkner, the slain Philadelphia police officer or what happened on that fateful night in 1981, the address was said to contribute to Faulkner’s wife, Maureen’s turmoil. Prosecutors feel as though Abu-Jamal deserves punishment because he is “still traumatizing the victim’s family.”
Abu-Jamal didn’t take too kindly to the new law, now known as “The Silencing Law.” Mumia, along with 11 other plaintiffs filed a challenge to their charges, claiming it is an infringement on their constitutional right to free speech. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the defendant in the case, filed an argument that the plaintiffs can’t deem the law unconstitutional because it has not been used yet. Chief Judge Christopher Conner of the Middle District of Pennsylvania found that Mumia and the other plaintiffs had just cause o challenge the law.
For more details on the law and the case, click here.