A court ruling that could reopen the police murder trial of a former Black Panther brings the 1982 Philadelphia case back to the spotlight years after it drew the attention of Hollywood celebrities and death-penalty opponents worldwide.

Mumia Abu-Jamal has emerged over four decades in prison as a vocal critic of racial bias in the American justice system.

His writings and commentaries have earned him acclaim from some scholars and activists, and disdain from police unions and others.

Philadelphia Judge Leon Tucker’s ruling Thursday could give Abu-Jamal a chance to reargue his 1998 appeal because because a Supreme Court justice on the panel had been the city district attorney during his initial appeal.

Former Chief Justice Ronald Castille says the defense never asked him to step aside.

A protestor holds a sign in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the offices of District Attorney Larry Krasner, Friday, Dec. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
A protestor holds a sign in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the offices of District Attorney Larry Krasner, Friday, Dec. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Pam Africa demonstrates in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the offices of District Attorney Larry Krasner, Friday, Dec. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Pam Africa demonstrates in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the offices of District Attorney Larry Krasner, Friday, Dec. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Demonstrators in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal stand outside the offices of District Attorney Larry Krasner, Friday, Dec. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Demonstrators in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal stand outside the offices of District Attorney Larry Krasner, Friday, Dec. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
A protestor holds up her clinched fist while demonstrating for Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the offices of District Attorney Larry Krasner, Friday, Dec. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
A protestor holds up her clinched fist while demonstrating for Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the offices of District Attorney Larry Krasner, Friday, Dec. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
A protestor holds up a poster depicting Mumia Abu-Jamal during a demonstration outside the offices of District Attorney Larry Krasner, Friday, Dec. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
A protestor holds up a poster depicting Mumia Abu-Jamal during a demonstration outside the offices of District Attorney Larry Krasner, Friday, Dec. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
A protestor holds up a poster depicting Mumia Abu-Jamal during a demonstration outside the offices of District Attorney Larry Krasner, Friday, Dec. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
A protestor holds up a poster depicting Mumia Abu-Jamal during a demonstration outside the offices of District Attorney Larry Krasner, Friday, Dec. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Source: The Associated Press