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Mumia Abu-Jamal Loses Bid For New Trial

Mumia Abu-Jamal has lost his bid for a new trial in the killing of a Philadelphia police officer in 1981.

The Supreme Court says in an order Monday it will not take up Abu-Jamal's claims that prosecutors improperly excluded blacks from the jury that convicted him of murdering Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia upheld Abu-Jamal's conviction but held his death sentence invalid. The appeals court said it would not second-guess state court rulings rejecting Abu-Jamal's claims of bias in the composition of the jury.

The high court considered only the conviction. The state has separately asked the court to reinstate the death sentence, but the justices have not acted on that request.

Also Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that confessions obtained by federal authorities before a suspect's first court appearance may be inadmissible if more than six hours elapse between an arrest and a court date.

The court says in a 5-4 decision that allowing long delays before a suspect is taken before a judge can give the government too much leverage over someone who has been arrested.

"Federal agents would be free to question suspects for extended periods before bringing them out in the open, and we have always known what custodial secrecy leads to," Justice David Souter wrote in the majority opinion.

The prisoner in the case, Johnnie Corley, was arrested on suspicion of robbing a credit union in Norristown, Pa. The FBI agents who arrested him did not take him to court for his initial appearance for 29½ hours, during which time they elicited a confession from Corley.

The case is Corley v. U.S., 07-10441.

The U.S. Supreme Court also ruled against the Navajo Nation for a second time in its battle with the federal government over whether the tribe should have gotten more money for coal on its land.

"Today we hold, once again, that the tribe's claim for compensation fails," said Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the court. "This matter should now be regarded as closed."

The case is United States v. Navajo Nation, 07-1410.

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