Mumia Abu-Jamal's appeals hearing continued until August

PHILADELPHIA (AP/WTXF) -- Former death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal asked a judge Monday to vacate his previous failed appeals attempts so he can again appeal his case.

A judge continued the hearing until Aug. 30 after a document Abu-Jamal's defense said they need to prove their petition was not found. The judge also approved a deposition of the employee who wrote the document to see if she can remember the contents.

His lawyers, petitioning under the Post-Conviction Relief Act, argued that the 64-year-old's rights were violated when trying to appeal his case numerous times because of the bias of State Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille.

Castille is a former Philadelphia District Attorney. As prosecutor, his office succeeded in getting the State Supreme Court to uphold Abu-Jamal's conviction.

Abu-Jamal's attorneys say Castille should not have had any involvement in deciding his appeals after he became a judge.

Philadelphia District Attorney's office spokesman Ben Waxman said the office looked for any documents that would be relevant to the argument that Castille had direct personal involvement in the case when he was prosecutor, but found none.

The judge also asked the district attorney's office to reach out to Castille to see if he has the document in question in his personal papers.

Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, spent 29 years on death row following his conviction in the 1981 murder of white Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal's sentence was reduced to life without parole in 2011.

Officer Faulkner's widow Maureen Faulkner had urged the district attorney's office to "stand shoulder to shoulder with victims of crime" leading up to Monday's hearing.

"When Danny was murdered, I made a vow to stand up and speak out for him because he lost his voice, not ever knowing in all these years that I would still be here."

Abu-Jamal has maintained his innocence and has become a symbol for groups seeking criminal justice reform