Tennessee AG challenges judge’s order that removed inmate from death row

Posted at 11:54 AM, Sep 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-20 18:41:24-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery has filed an appeal to challenge a Nashville judge’s order that removed an inmate from death row.

Back in August, Judge Monte Watkins allowed Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman to serve three consecutive life sentences instead of facing execution in April 2020.

His attorneys and District Attorney Glenn Funk previously struck a deal, saying the prosecutor in his original trial kept African Americans off the jury out of discrimination. Judge Watkins approved it, saying the ruling would "remedy a legal injustice."

On Friday, the attorney general’s office called the order “unlawful” and “unprecedented.”

Read the notice of appeal here.

“The order exchanged the death sentence of Tennessee inmate Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman for life in prison, thus essentially granting clemency through a court and a district attorney that both lack the authority to do so,” the Tennessee AG said in a release.

Bradley MacLean, the attorney for Abdur'Rahman, responded in a statement, saying in part: "The Attorney General has taken the unprecedented step of challenging the judgment and authority of the Davidson County District Attorney who is responsible for all criminal cases in Davidson County. The State of Tennessee is bound by the consent decree, and the Attorney General lacks standing to challenge it."

Read MacLean's full response here.

A 2016 legal filing cited prosecutor John Zimmerman's “racist motivations” in his challenges to keep two African Americans off the 1987 jury that would try and later convict Abdur'Rahman.

Abdur’Rahman’s was convicted in 1987 for stabbing death of Patrick Daniels and the stabbing of Norma Jean Norman, who survived.

Read more:
Judge allows Tennessee inmate to be taken off death row and avoid execution
18 years after NC5 investigation, inmate may finally get off death row