Michael Coard, a criminal defense attorney with more than 25 years of state and federal trial experience, specializes in murder cases and worked at the Charles W. Bowser Law Center after serving as Legal Counsel for State Senator Hardy Williams. He received his degree in law from Ohio State University and his undergraduate degrees in English Education and Political Science from Cheyney University. While in law school serving as president of the Black Law Students Association, he led the activism that compelled Ohio State University which is the largest university in America) to divest all of its funds from companies doing business with or in apartheid-governed South Africa.
He is an adjunct professor in the African Studies Department at Temple University and volunteer instructor of Criminal Justice in the university’s Pan African Studies Program. As an attorney, he successfully litigated at trial a historic Private Criminal Complaint that sought a murder prosecution of a white police officer who killed an unarmed Black teen. Furthermore, he is certified by the Court of Common Pleas to represent indigent defendants in death penalty cases. Also, he has served as local co-counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal whose death sentence was vacated. Moreover, nearly half of his criminal cases in general are pro bono. And he is a recipient of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s prestigious Thurgood Marshall Award as well as both the NAACP’s and the Barristers Association’s prestigious Cecil B. Moore Award. In addition, he is a recipient of Cheyney University Alumni Association’s Martin Luther King Jr. Spirit Award.
As a community activist, he is a founding member of Avenging The Ancestors Coalition (ATAC). ATAC is the organization that helped lead the historic and successful battle to force the federal government to agree to commemorate the African descendants enslaved by President George Washington at America’s first “White House,” which was located at the current site of the new Liberty Bell Center. And as a member of the Friends of Bethel Burying Ground, he is working with activists to have that South Philadelphia cemetery- where the remains of more than 8,000 African-Americans from the 1800s are desecrated under a trash dump and city playground- officially memorialized, He has served as a Pennsylvania board member of the ACLU and the Philadelphia chapter of the National Lawyers Guild as well as a member of the Occupy Philadelphia Legal Defense Team and the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Also, he is a founding member of Judging The Judges as well as “F(ilm) The Police.” He serves as one of the attorneys for Heeding Cheyney’s Call, which is a coalition of Cheyney University supporters who are using the federal courts in a major civil rights battle to compel the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to end its decades-long racial discrimination against the oldest African-American institution of higher learning in America. In addition, he hosts the “Radio Courtroom” show on WURD96.1-FM and the “TV Courtroom” show on Comcast/Verizon. He also writes columns for the Philadelphia Tribune and Philadelphia Magazine.