SPECIAL UPDATE: August 31, 2016

from the CAMPAIGN TO BRING MUMIA HOME –

Dear Brothers and Sisters: 

In a perplexing decision published today, August 31, 2016, District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani denied the request presented by Mumia’s attorneys last August 2015, that the court order the PA Department of Correction (DOC) to immediately treat Mumia, who is suffering from chronic and active Hepatitis C, with the existing cure for that disease.

The judge denied the suit on a technicality:  that Mumia’s health suit failed to name the DOC’s Hepatitis C Committee, which according to the judge is the entity responsible for taking action in these matters.  Really, Judge Mariani???

However, the judge’s decision holds that the DOC has violated the 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment in its failure to treat Mumia, and other prisoners, suffering with active Hepatitis C.

This is yet another example of the contortions and acrobatics that have long been employed by the courts to deny justice to Mumia, and thousands of other defendants.

Read Bob Boyle’s longer summary of the judge’s decision below.

More updates to follow on next steps. We will not stop until Mumia and the thousands of other prisoners with Hep C get the treatment they need.

In struggle,
Campaign to Bring Mumia Home.

From Attorney Bob Boyle:

FEDERAL COURT FINDS PENNSYLVANIA DOC HEPATITIS C PROTOCOL

UNCONSTITUTIONAL, BUT DENIES INJUNCTION

          In mid-2015 Mumia Abu Jamal filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania requesting that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (“DOC”) provide him with life-saving medication to cure his hepatitis C. Abu-Jamal v. Kerestes, et al., 15 Civ. 0967. In a decision issued today, August 31,  United States District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani denied Mumia’s request for a preliminary injunction requested that medication while at the same time finding that the DOC’s protocol for treating inmates with hepatitis C falls below constitutional standards. Judge Mariani denied the motion on the ground that the individuals currently being sued, the Warden of SCI Mahanoy, the Director of Health Care for the DOC, the Director of Health Care at SCI Mahanoy, and various medical staff would not have the authority to carry out any injunction. 

       In October 2015, the DOC adopted a protocol for treating inmates with hepatitis C. Under it, only inmates with advanced, decompensated cirrhosis with bleeding are given the hepatitis C anti-virals that have a 90-95% cure rate. As Judge Mariani found:

 “DOC’s treatment protocol as currently adopted and implemented fails to provide treatment for hepatitis C through the administration of DAA [Direct-Acting Anti-Viral] medications such as Harvoni, Sovaldi and Viekira Pak until an inmate, including Plaintiff, has progressed to the stage of advanced compensated cirrhosis or early decompensated cirrhosis manifested by esophageal varices. As such, the interim Hepatitis C protocol presents a conscious disregard of a known risk of advanced cirrhosis and death by esophageal hemorrhages.

 The protocol as currently adopted and implemented presents deliberate indifference to the known risks which follow from untreated hepatitis C.

 …the interim protocol prolongs the suffering of those who have been diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C and allows the progression of the disease to accelerate so that it presents a greater threat of cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and death of the inmate with such disease.”  (Excerpted from Opinion).

In denying the injunction, Judge Mariani found that the members of the DOC’s Hepatitis C committee – an entity whose existence was unknown until near the end of the December 2015 evidentiary hearing – would be the proper defendants. It should be noted that currently pending before the Court is a motion to add as a defendant DOC Director of Clinical Services Paul Noel, who is a member of the Hepatitis C committee, as a defendant. In addition, at no time during the litigation has the DOC argued that the defendants who had been named could not carry out an injunction.

While we are disappointed that Judge Mariani did not issue an injunction, it is important that the court recognized, and found, that the Pennsylvania DOC is denying individuals for whom they are responsible adequate health care as guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Irrespective of the injunction, the Pennsylvania DOC can choose to comply with the Constitution and provide life-saving drugs to Mumia Abu-Jamal and to all who suffer from hepatitis C.

August 25, 2016

UPDATE ON MUMIA’S HEPATITIS C LEGAL CASE forwarded by Pam Africa

From Bob Boyle, one of Mumia’s two attorneys fighting his case around health care

On August 23, 2015, over a year ago, Mumia filed a motion for an injunction to require that the Pennsylvania DOC provide him with the cure for Hepatitis C.  Evidence presented at a hearing in December 2015 showed that the disease is causing extreme suffering for Mumia. His blood work is abnormal, his liver is deteriorating. He has a skin condition that causes constant itching, and he suffers from side effects of medication used to alleviate some of the symptoms.

There has been no ruling from the Court despite the fact that it is fully briefed. We have updated the court with more recent medical records that show MAJ’s current condition. We hope the court rules soon. Either way, the court rules there will likely be an appeal to the United States Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit.

In the meantime, there has been much “motion practice” in the civil case from which the injunction motion stems. The defendants (DOC officials) have filed motions to dismiss. We (the plaintiff) have filed an amended complaint as well as a motion to add Department of Corrections chief John Wetzel and Dr. Paul Noel as defendants.  Once we prevail on the motions to dismiss, we will be in the “discovery” phase and able to get documents and take the depositions of the defendants and others.

In other words: no matter what happens with the injunction motion, the case continues and we can continue to seek necessary medical care.

Bob Boyle

. . . From the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home:

 Mumia is Still Fighting for the Hep C Cure: Water Crisis at SCI Mahanoy, and New Litigation

The movement to Free Mumia is awaiting a ruling by District Court Judge Robert Mariani on whether or not the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) is bound, by law, to administer the known Hepatitis C cure to Mumia. This important ruling will set a precedent for thousands of prisoners in Pennsylvania suffering with Hepatitis C, a disease that destroys the liver.

As of this writing, Mumia is once again experiencing itching all over his body as well as diarrhea.  We suspect, but cannot confirm, that the diarrhea is linked to the severe contamination of the prison’s water supply, which began two weeks ago. Prisoners at SCI Mahanoy, the prison that houses Mumia, have reported that water coming out of all water sources is dark and emits a foul odor.

Mumia’s itching is a symptom of his ongoing skin problem, a condition disproportionally seen in black patients with active Hep C.

In general, Mumia’s health has waxed and waned over the last months, which is customary with patients with Hep C. However, Mumia’s disease process is chronic and active. This means that even if the symptoms of Hep C are not immediately visible, the liver is still being damaged silently.

According to all of the medical specialists who testified in Mumia’s health hearing in December 2015, there is a 60% likelihood that Mumia has serious liver damage.

Despite these findings, for the last year, instead of administering the Hep C cure to Mumia, the prison infirmary has been giving him a legion of topical medications including light therapy. The topical treatments suppress his skin condition temporarily, but have harmful side effect. For example, recently, Mumia experienced a first-degree burn on his right arm near the elbow. Prison doctors believe that the burn was caused by the combination of the new skin medication, Otezla, they administered to him, the light therapy he has been getting three times a week, and his exposure to sunlight during yard.

There are also new developments in Mumia’s conviction case. On August 8, 2016, Judith Ritter and Christina Swarns filed a petition based on the June 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Williams v. Commonwealth. This important ruling determined that a judge can not fairly adjudicate an appeal of a case for which he/she has previously authorized a conviction, as a DA, for example. In this case, the high court ruled that Chief Justice of the PA Supreme Court, Ronald Castille, should have recused himself from Williams’s appellate review because he had previously authorized the Williams death sentence as the Philadelphia district attorney.

In Mumia’s case, the same judge, Ronald Castille, heard Mumia’s appeal to the PA Supreme Court in 1998 despite a petition requesting his recusal by Mumia’s attorneys. Castille had been assistant DA during Mumia’s original trial and DA during Mumia’s first appeal.

On the international front: the French support group, Collectif Français Liberon Mumia, is organizing a meeting in September with members of the European Parliament to discuss Mumia’s health crisis and that of the approximately 10 thousand PA prisoners with Hep C. This follows the visit with Mumia last year of Patrick Le Hyaric, a member of the European Parliament and vice-chair of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left Group. Le Hyaric has collected 108 signatures in support of Mumia from members of the European Parliament representing 16 countries and including many French deputies and senators. Bob Boyle, Mumia’s attorney, and Nyle Forte, a young minister and Ph.D. candidate in religion at Princeton University, will join that delegation in September.

Note:  Minor correction: it looks like, according to Pam Africa, the diarrhea preceded the water problem and may well be another side effect of the horrible medication Mumia is being given.

For information on how to get involved

Call: 267-760-7344

Email: bringmumiahome@gmail.com

Web: bringmumiahome.com  *****  freemumia.com

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