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Mumia Abu-Jamal Trial: 1982

Black Panther Activist, Trial Begins, Defendant Absent, Was There Another Shooter?, The Verdict

Defendant: Mumia Abu-Jamal
Crime Charged: Murder
Chief Defense Lawyers: Anthony Jackson (trial); Leonard I. Weinglass (posttrial, since 1992)
Chief Prosecutor: Joseph J. McGill
Judge: Albert Sabo
Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dates of Trial: June 15-July 2, 1982
Verdict: Guilty
Sentence: Execution

SIGNIFICANCE: The trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal raises a number of questions that jurisprudence must face: How believable is witness? How does a judge handle an unruly defendant? Is capital punishment justifiable? Abu-Jamal's lingering incarceration on death row has prompted numerous protests against his execution, many in countries that have abolished the death penalty. During demonstrations on February 28, 2000, 185 people were arrested outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., and 164 protesters were arrested at a federal appeals court building in San Francisco.

At 3:51 A.M. on December 9, 1981, 25-year-old Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, a five-year veteran on the force, radioed from his patrol car for backup at Thirteenth Street and Locust. Arriving seconds later, police found Faulkner lying dead, his face blown away by a gunshot.

Sitting nearby and bleeding profusely was a man identified later as Mumia Abu-Jamal. He was a cabdriver. On the ground was a gun he was licensed to carry.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988