Lawyer admits poor defense of Abu-Jamal

July 28, 1995|By Newsday

PHILADELPHIA -- Nervously acknowledging his inability to defend his client in a racially charged cop-killing case 13 years ago, the former attorney for condemned black radio journalist Mamia Abu-Jamal testified yesterday that he never saw TC medical examiner's report that indicated that a gun of a different caliber from Abu-Jamal's was the murder weapon.

Attorney Anthony E. Jackson also testified that no witnesses except Abu-Jamal were called and no evidence was presented on Abu-Jamal's behalf in the 1982 hearing that determined that the journalist was to be executed for the murder of a city police officer. Mr. Jackson said he did not discuss with his client how to legally fight the death penalty. Abu-Jamal is scheduled to die by lethal injection Aug. 17.

"I'm confessing what I did and didn't do," Mr. Jackson said. "I'm just admiting and telling what the facts and the reality . . . are."

The case of Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther and one-time head of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, has become a cause celebre in Europe and South Africa, and supporters in the United States and abroad maintain he was wrongly convicted and sentenced by a racist criminal justice system.

"It's like Philadelphia, Mississippi, only Mississippi has changed," said Leonard Weinglass, Abu-Jamal's current attorney, speaking with reporters yesterday.

Abu-Jamal was convicted in the December 1981 killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, in an incident that underscored longstanding allegations of police abuse and further exacerbated tensions between the Police Department and the black community.

Mr. Faulkner's wife, Maureen, has been present during the current proceedings, in which Abu-Jamal is seeking a new trial, charging misconduct by the trial judge, Albert F. Sabo, and prosecutors, and alleging that he was not properly represented by Mr. Jackson.

One of the main issues is the behavior of Judge Sabo, who presided over the 1982 trial and has consistently ruled in favor of the prosecution in the current hearing.

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