Death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal will receive a new hearing on Nov. 9 to review his death sentence for the 1982 murder of a Philadelphia police officer.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Sept. 21 agreed to hear arguments in the case, under a directive from the U.S. Supreme Court to review Jamal’s death sentence for killing Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
In an e-mail to supporters, Jamal’s defense lawyer Robert Bryan said “We are cautiously encouraged that the federal court has taken this step.”
Abu-Jamal was convicted in a unanimous decision by a majority white jury and sentenced to death.
Born Wesley Cook, he has maintained his innocence from death row in a Pennsylvania state prison, submitting appeal requests based on allegations of judicial bias, police brutality, and an inadequate defense during his arrest and trial 28 years ago.
At the time of his arrest, Abu-Jamal was a radio announcer and president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. He was known for his outspoken political views and commentary on racial injustice and police brutality.
During his incarceration he has written several books, appeared on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” and continues to protest his conviction on prisonradio.org, a non-profit organization run by The Redwood Justice Fund.
Opponents to Abu-Jamal’s claims of innocence include the Fraternal Order of Police and Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the murdered officer. At a recent screening of the film “Barrel of a Gun,” a documentary about the case, Faulkner’s widow said the movie “will put people’s mind at rest,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“There is no doubt that Mumia Abu-Jamal wanted to murder a police officer that night, and that person was my husband,” she said.
His trial and subsequent attempts at an appeal have gained international attention and support including former South African president Nelson Mandela, Amnesty International, the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, members of Congress and celebrities.