Back to Court: Case Overview and Update

The Case of Lorenzo Johnson

Lorenzo Johnson, who has served 22 years in prison, will have a hearing seeking to overturn his conviction on July 11, 2017, before Senior Judge Lawrence F. Clark, of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Clark recently ruled that he would hear a broad range of the innocence claims of Lorenzo Johnson.

Johnson had served almost 17 years in prison when he won his freedom in 2012, after the Federal Appeals Court for the Third Circuit overturned his conviction. The Pennsylvania Attorney General appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. A mere 148 days after gaining his freedom, on May 29, 2012, the United States Supreme Court, in a quick and shocking decision, without even requesting a full briefing and oral arguments, reinstated Lorenzo’s conviction and he was ordered to return to Pennsylvania to resume his sentence of life without parole, where he resides today.

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Next month: Lorenzo’s back in court!

Dear Supporters:

Today marks the 5th Anniversary of when I turned myself back into prison for a crime I never committed.

But on July 11, 12, and 13, I will have the chance to clear my name once and for all in court!

The prosecution in my case turned over NEVER seen before Case Discovery to my legal team. This Case Discovery I speak on was withheld from me and ALL of my prior attorneys for 18½ years. Not only was the prosecution’s only witness was labeled a SUSPECT in this same murder I’ve been wrongfully convicted of, I was also furnished with a written statement from this same witness, for almost two decades I was told this witness never made a written statement. So I had to honor a police summary of this witness. Well, this statement shows my innocence and contradicts what this witness testified to from my preliminary hearing to my trial. To make a long story short, the prosecution in my case let this false testimony go un-correct from the lower court all the way up to the United States Supreme Court who relied on this testimony to Reinstate my conviction when I was a free man. This was done knowingly.

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Innocent Prisoners: We Are Human Beings, Aren’t We?

by Lorenzo Johnson

First published on the Huffington Post, 3/6/17

Trapped in the bowels of a world where people are labeled the “worst of the worst,” dwell innocent prisoners. We are surrounded by criminals convicted of everything from petty crimes to multiple murders. How did we get here? Nine out of ten times, we were poor and stripped of our constitutional rights. Never once did we commit a crime—instead, a crime has been committed against us that would change our life forever.

When it came to us, the rule of “innocent until proven guilty” was reversed. If you look at the data provided by the National Registry of Exonerations, you will be shocked at how badly our criminal justice system has failed us. Then way we are treated, is as if we are less than human. At times, we wonder if the constitution even applies to us.

For those of us who are fortunate enough to eventually get exonerated, statistics show that 75% of the time, government agents were responsible for our false convictions. This is fact, not fiction. Not all government agents are corrupt, of course. However—in three out of four cases of exoneration, the actions of criminal justice officials were responsible for the injustice. If you look at the almost 2,000 (and counting) exonerations since 1989, you’ll see a lot of corruption that had been kept silent and swept under the rug.

Under the Sixth Amendment, we are all guaranteed the right to effective counsel if we can’t afford an attorney. What the Sixth Amendment hasn’t guaranteed innocent prisoners is adequate funding for our counsel. With our court-appointed laywers and public defenders being severely underfunded, we are losing before we even start.

I’m one of many innocent prisoners who has uncovered evidence of my innocence that was hidden or withheld my case prosecutor. You might think that since evidence of my innocence has been uncovered, my prosecutor would do what’s right after twenty-one years—but, no, not at all. Now, the prosecution is not fighting against my claims of innocence on their face—instead, they are relying on the issue of my claim’s “timeliness” to try and throw out my evidence of innocence.

It’s sad but, pet animals are treated better than us. We are human beings—aren’t we?

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A New Year Message from Lorenzo

Happy New Year, from my family to yours.

To all of my supporters, your families and friends,

Happy New Year!!! I hope this year will be better than last year for everyone. For everyone who has someone in my situation, I pray that all suffering comes to an end. For those who are suffering from an illness, I hope this year you’re healed or get better. Those who struggled last year and are trying to get ahead in life, this is the year you finally get ahead–I’m pulling for everyone.

As for my status — I’m extremely happy to let everyone know our prayers have not fallen on deaf ears and I’ve been Blessed. My case is OFFICIALLY heading to the courtroom 🙂 The Court has issued an Order and my legal team is on top of everything. I can’t speak on their strategies but what I can say is that they are eagerly working to bring my nightmare to an end. I trust them and they are the best in their field (here in Pennsylvania). Soon as the instructions in the Order are met, I will finally have my day in court. It has been a long time coming and I embrace all that’s coming this year.

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New article: “Are Some Prosecutors Experts At Wrongful Conviction?”

Lorenzo’s latest on the Huffington Post. You can also read it here.

Are Some Prosecutors Experts At Wrongful Conviction?

by Lorenzo Johnson

To be clear, this article in is no way directed at those government agents and prosecutors who do not abuse their power to seek or maintain false convictions. But since 1989, almost 2,000 people have been exonerated of crimes they never committed — a number that just scratches the surface of the true tally of wrongful convictions. Most of these people were sentenced to the death penalty, life sentences, or decades in prison. The average time they spent in prison was between 13½ and 15 years. And again, that’s only those who were fortunate enough to be exonerated. The rest of us — and there are many of us — have to fight daily to expose our innocence and the injustice we have suffered.

When wrongful convictions are viewed as mistakes while new records of exonerations are set yearly, we have to ask: are we turning a blind eye to injustice or does society just not want to call it for what it really is?

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Still Waiting on a Court Date

nov-2016-visit

Team Lorenzo Johnson member Thomas Dichter visiting Lorenzo at SCI Mahanoy.

Lorenzo is still waiting on a court date for an evidentiary hearing in which a judge will finally review his evidence of innocence. It’s been two years and counting since he submitted his last Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition supplement.