Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Tuesday, November 2, 2010 @ 7 pm
Written and produced by Johanna Fernandez, Assistant Professor of History and Black and Hispanic Studies, in collaboration with Director Kouross Esmaeli of BigNoise Productions, the film Justice on Trial investigates the civil rights and constitutional violations in the controversial case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the award-winning radio journalist and world renowned death row inmate whose prolific writings in defense of social justice have earned him the moniker, “Voice of the Voiceless.”
The film suggests that the case of Abu-Jamal stands as a primer for understanding race and the criminal justice system...
A trial court convicted Abu-Jamal of first-degree murder in the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death and has been on death row since 1982. During the intervening years, debate has raged between Abu-Jamal’s supporters and detractors, with his supporters maintaining his innocence and claiming that exculpatory evidence was suppressed during the trial.
Justice on Trial presents the legal and factual arguments for reasonable doubt about the fairness of the guilty verdict. The film suggests that the case of Abu-Jamal stands as a primer for understanding race and the criminal justice system: its many violations -- including judicial misconduct, discrimination in jury selection, and police corruption and tampering with evidence to obtain a conviction -- account for the exponential and disproportionate incarceration of African Americans and Latinos in the United States over the last 30 years, making the issue of mass incarceration of people of color one of the gravest civil rights problems of our time.
On orders from the Supreme Court, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals will reconsider reinstating the death penalty on Nov. 9. With the federal appeal on the horizon, Fernandez and Esmaeli expedited completion of their four-year project in order to participate in revived conversations inspired by the case.