The Washington Post reports:
During the trial, Johnson remained adamant that he informed his partners of the positive HIV test. He pleaded not guilty. The prosecution, however, impeached his testimony using three clips of cellphone conversations, recorded while Johnson was jailed. In one snippet of phone conversation, Johnson admitted he was just “pretty sure” he had informed his partners he was HIV positive.
After slightly more than two hours of deliberation, a jury declared Johnson guilty of three crimes, all felonies under Missouri law: one count of recklessly infecting a sexual partner with HIV, one count of recklessly exposing a partner to HIV and three counts of attempting to recklessly infect a partner with HIV. In July 2015, Judge Jon A. Cunningham of the Circuit Court for St. Charles County sentenced Johnson to 30 years in prison.
Presiding Missouri Court of Appeals’ Eastern District Judge James M. Dowd wrote Tuesday that Johnson’s trial was rendered “fundamentally unfair” by the prosecutors; they tarried too long handing over the cellphone calls recorded while Johnson was in the county jail. “The State’s blatant discovery violation here is inexcusable,” the judges concluded.Johnson's lawyer Lawrence Lustberg, the ACLU of Missouri and Lambda Legal celebrated this week's result. Lustberg's comment is today's Queer Quote:
"Statutes like the one used to prosecute Mr. Johnson are inherently problematic, as they promote stigma and animus towards people living with HIV in violation of their legal and constitutional rights."The ACLU notes that the new trial is being ordered due to prosecutorial misconduct and not the underlying constitutional frailty of the criminal statute Johnson was charged and sentenced under.
MadProfessah will continue to follow this case closely and urge readers to contribute to organizations like Lambda Legal, ACLU and the Center for HIV Law and Policy.
Hat/tip to Washington Blade and Washington Post.