Mumia Abu-Jamal’s trial began with jury selection in June of 1982. Unlike many indigents accused of murder, Jamal was allowed to personally select an attorney in private practice to defend him at public expense. The record reflects that Jamal personally interviewed and selected Anthony Jackson, an experienced local criminal defense attorney, to be his defense counsel.

Anthony Jackson was referred to Jamal by their mutual friend, E. Steven Collins of the Black Journalists Association. Mr. Jackson came highly recommended, having earned a record of success in a number of local murder cases, and having earned a reputation as an “anti-police-brutality” activist lawyer. According to Jackson’s testimony, he met with Jamal on several occasions while Jamal was in the hospital recovering from his gunshot wound. Having been selected by Jamal, Jackson approached the Court and requested to be “appointed” so that Jamal would not have to pay for his services. (N.T. 7/27/95, 31-34, 95-101, 117-121) Jackson was a graduate of the prestigious University of Pennsylvania. He had worked for 5 years as an “evidence technician” for the Philadelphia Police Department, (where he admittedly gained an in depth knowledge of legal science and technology) and he had also worked as a private investigator for the Public Defenders Association. For a short time he had been an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia, but left when he discovered he preferred being on the other side.

According to his 1995 testimony, prior to taking on Jamal’s case, Anthony Jackson had previously represented “no less than 20 defendants accused of first-degree murder.” Of those cases, he had lost only 6 times. (N.T. 7/27/95, 92-93) Additionally, prior to the Jamal case, Jackson had never had a client sentenced to death.

Immediately before he assumed control of the Jamal case in January 1982, Jackson was working with an organization known as “Philcop.” This organization represented claimants in police abuse cases and instructed attorneys in how to file personal injury (police brutality) lawsuits against the Philadelphia Police Department for various alleged abuses.