Film "American Justice on Trial" Traces Legacy of Black Panther Huey Newton's Murder Trial

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Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton (1942 - 1989) stands for a portrait on the campus of Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, probably April 1970.  (Photo by David Fenton/Contributor Getty Images)

In the fall of 1967 Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther party, was charged with shooting and killing a police officer on the streets of West Oakland. The trial that followed came to revolutionize the jury selection process in criminal proceedings and put the then relatively unknown Panther Party into the national spotlight. The film “American Justice on Trial” premiering Friday at the SF Film Festival examines the trial and its consequences. Forum talks with the film's producer as well as Huey Newton’s brother, Melvin, and David Harper, jury foreman during the historic trial which changed his life, and the lives of many others.


Lise Pearlman, co-producer, film “American Justice on Trial”; retired judge; author, “American Justice on Trial”, “The Sky is the Limit: People V. Newton the Real Trial of the 20th Century?” and " Call Me Phaedra: The Life and Times of Movement Lawyer Fay Stender"

Melvin Newton, Huey Newton's brother; former minister of finance, Black Panther Party; professor emeritus in Ethnic Studies, Merritt College in Oakland

David Harper, jury foreman, 1968 Huey Newton murder trial