US judge throws out 'mental anguish' law aimed at cop-killer

Written by The Associated Press | Apr 28, 2015 5:19 PM

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Maureen Faulkner, widow of slain Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, speaks beneath a new mural of him in this 2014 file photo. The mural is painted on the side of the police station Faulkner worked at in the Chinatown section of the Philadelphia. Daniel Faulkner was shot to death by Mumia Abu-Jamal on a downtown street in 1981.

(Harrisburg) -- A federal judge is throwing out a Pennsylvania law designed to prevent offenders from causing mental anguish to crime victims, calling it an illegal restriction on the right to free expression.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner ruled against the law that was enacted quickly last year after Mumia Abu-Jamal gave a recorded commencement address to a small Vermont college. Abu-Jamal is serving life for killing a Philadelphia police officer.

Conner says the law was unlawfully purposed, vaguely executed and patently overbroad, and that legislators "fell woefully short of the mark."

The law let victims seek civil injunctions against offenders who act in ways that perpetuate mental anguish.

It passed the House unanimously and the Senate by a wide margin, and was signed into law by then-Governor Tom Corbett.

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