Episode 249: Lamar Johnson, Part 1


Jessa: I’m Jessa.


Nick: I’m Nick.


Jessa: And we are back.


Nick: We are, indeed. And we’re back to really start moving substantively into our newest deep dive. Our next deep dive. And we got here by way of some episodes about entities called Conviction Integrity Units. That is the most common name, but there are a couple different ones. And as we talked about in the last couple episodes, those things are units within prosecutors’ offices, state, what we’re talking about is state prosecutors’ offices, elected district attorneys or states’ attorneys or circuit, they’ve got all sorts of different names, but typically referred to as DAs. And they exist today in somewhere between 45 and 60, such DAs offices around the country and these are offices, units within these local prosecutorial offices, are created to go back and investigate old cases to determine if there were problems. And so the idea is to try to give validity and credibility to the process by looking themselves, not just relying on defense side work, but looking themselves at past work to see if it is real and valid, and if it is not..


Jessa: Try and fix that.


Nick: Try to do something about it. And that actually is what we’re going to see in the case that we’re about to dive into.


Jessa: Right. So as you may recall from last time, we are talking a case out of St Louis. The State v. Lamar Johnson. This is a case that comes from, surprise surprise, the 90s.


Nick: And by the way, we are talking about, this is a case from the city of St Louis, St Louis County because in St Louis, they actually have two different prosecutors’ offices, one that represents the city itself and one that represents the rest of the county.


Jessa: Which is called the circuit.


Nick: Right. They’re called Circuit Attorneys in Missouri. So this case involves the Circuit Attorney’s office for the city of St Louis, as opposed to the Circuit Attorney’s office for the county of St Louis. You may, aside from this case, people might’ve heard prosecutors and law enforcement in this area from the Ferguson, everything out of Ferguson. So there has been, in both the city and the county of St Louis, new Circuit Attorneys, new elected prosecutors elected in both places and that has caused some conflict. That, again, is part of what we’re about to talk about. So you were saying, State v. Lamar Johnson from the 90s.


Jessa: Alright. So this is a murder case, and the facts basically, the facts aren’t nearly as interesting as the law. And I don’t mean to dismiss the facts, but we’re gonna try and do these relatively quickly because the law is actually, to me, the much meatier..


Nick: Absolutely. This prosecution appears now to have been a tragedy, a miscarriage of justice. Unfortunately, that’s not all that unique. It’s a lot less, it’s a lot more common than you or I or most of us would care to admit. But that is a story that’s been told, what we want to focus on, as soon as we can, is the more recent legal issues in this case. So this case began on October 30 of 1994. The victim in this case was a man named Marcus Boyd. He was shot to death that night at approximately 9pm on the front porch of his apartment building. He was sitting with another man named Greg Elking. Reportedly, two African American men wearing masks and dark clothing, both armed with a gun, ran up to the porch that those two men were sitting on, from the side without warning, ski masks, the masks over their faces concealed all facial characteristics of the two assailants except for their eyes. The two assailants shot Marcus Boyd several times. He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. There was an investigation that began that night, October 30th. It only lasted a few days until November 3rd, so that is, what? 30, 31, 1, 2, 3, five days, essentially. And following that, two men were arrested. Lamar Johnson and Phillip Campbell, and they were both charged with the murder of Marcus Boyd and related charges.


Jessa: Right. And how did the police come to focus on Lamar Johnson? Great question. Boyd’s girlfriend, Leslie Williams, is one of the first people questioned. And she describes being in an upstairs apartment and hearing gunshots, that several neighbours heard the gunshots as well. Some say they saw two men running away. She said, Leslie Williams says a white man named Greg was on the porch with Boyd. That would be Elking and that she knew him to be a customer of Boyd’s crack cocaine business. She then kinda, she gets transported to the station for questioning. She says she couldn’t see the face of either shooter. They were both wearing some type of mask. She said that the only person she could think of that would have a reason to harm Boyd was Lamar Johnson. And she asserted that, like, sort of because he was allegedly involved with the drug trade.


Nick: Right, and may have owed Marcus Boyd money. And we’re talking about somewhere in the neighbourhood of, like..


Jessa: Forty dollars.


Nick: So the police, Lamar Johnson’s name starts appearing in police records and police reports before the only eyewitness or any eyewitness is interviewed. So it is purely on the basis of that information..


Jessa: A theoretical motive.


Nick: That’s right. Because she was asked, does he, is he in conflict, is he fighting with anybody? And that’s where the name came up. So the police begin their investigation. They interview a variety of people. They are focusing on Johnson at this point and they, the investigation is, I guess, some version of normal for a while. They’re having trouble, though, locating the only eyewitness. That is the other man, Greg Elking, who was on the porch with Marcus Boyd. Eventually on November 3rd, they meet with him. They found him, contacted him the day before, and they meet up with him. He, what does that Elking say? He confirms that he was on the porch with Marcus Boyd at the time of the homicide. He confirms there were two men, that both of them were armed with guns. One was about 5 foot 9. The other was taller, wearing dark clothing and masks and only their nose and eyes were exposed.


Jessa: Right. And at first, he kind of denies that he’s able to identify anybody. He ultimately contacts police and says “Well, why don’t I look at a photo array?” And he’s shown a photo array. He’s shown five photos. Both Johnson and Campbell were included in the five-photo array which is contrary to every procedure I know of. You’re not supposed to include more than one.


Nick: Certainly these days.


Jessa: That Elking, upon seeing those photos, said “Well, the eyes in the photo of Johnson look similar to the eyes of one of the gunmen”. But he wouldn’t initial or sign the back of the photo to indicate there was a positive I.D., and purportedly, he expressed some kind of fear for himself or his family, in the event that he was to identify anybody.


Nick: Right. And this is all according to police reports. This is the police’s account of what happened during that process.


Jessa: Right. Despite the lack of positive I.D., police apprehend Johnson, take him to the station on November 3rd, inform him that he’s a suspect. He waives his Miranda rights, gives a statement denying any involvement, offers an alibi, says he’s been with his girlfriend in a totally separate location. Campbell..


Nick: There’s two Campbell’s here. There’s the lead detective on the homicide of Marcus Boyd. There’s a separate, a different detective who is interested in speaking with Johnson about a different matter. And that, so that second detective who purportedly wants to speak with Lamar Johnson about a different investigation, begins questioning him, and that detective who is also named Campbell, claims that Lamar Johnson begins to make incriminating statements about the homicide case. Things like “I shouldn’t have let the white guy live.”


Jessa: And that conversation is not recorded.


Nick: Right. So Detective Campbell asserts that he made statements to that effect. Okay, fine. They begin again, trying to find Greg Elking, who they clearly have trouble keeping track of.


Jessa: Right. They finally locate him. They show him a line-up. He identifies no one. Johnson was in that line-up. He was actually shown the same group of people twice, insofar as Campbell was in the second line-up and Johnson was in the first line-up, so each time, there was a suspect, not the same suspect, but.


Nick: Right. And so, as they go through those multiple times, he does not make any I.D. They do a third run at one of these line-ups, and the people who were in that line-up are instructed to repeat a line “Get the fuck up” as part of this line-up process. At that point, Greg Elking identifies somebody else as one of the two masked shooters. So they do it, yet again, and so this is, what, we’re up to a fifth or sixth total line-up at this point. And Campbell was in this final one and no identification was made in that. So what happens next? Well. The police aren’t, obviously, thrilled with the, you know, I was gonna say weakness of the I.D. but I think we’re past that.


Jessa: A lack of I.D.


Nick: Exactly. And I, the only I.D. that was made during the line-ups was of..


Jessa: The wrong guy.


Nick: Well, no. Yes. Someone who just wasn’t a part, just one of the fillers. So according to the detective, the lead detective, Elking, Greg Elking then says “I want to do the right thing but I have to worry about my family”, you know, worried about what’s going to happen to him, coming back on him, and all that kind of stuff. And he says “I lied during the line-ups. I actually could tell you who the guy was. I was lying because of this fear and intimidation that I’m experiencing.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: Again. According to, that’s what the police say. Okay fine. Then the two suspects, Johnson and Campbell, Lamar Johnson and Campbell, are told that they had been identified by an eyewitness. They both decline to make any additional statements to law enforcement at that time. So they wind up being charged. While Johnson is being held in custody, leading up to his trial, surprise surprise, a jailhouse informant surfaces, claiming that he had, alleging that he had a conversation with Johnson, in which he heard, claimed to have heard Johnson and Campbell, the two of them together, discussing their involvement in the shooting of Mr Boyd. He also claimed they talked about a second homicide, and no one had any idea what that was in reference to.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: So he, this jailhouse informant, that, the interview with him was recorded. In that, he claimed that the two of them admitted to shooting Boyd and talked about “taking care of the white boy” to cover their tracks.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: So that, he told that story more than once. So we get to trial. The case goes to trial in, pretty quickly. In less than a year. The homicide took place on October 30th and the case goes to trial in July of the next year. That’s pretty fast.


Jessa: Yeah.


Nick: So, what happens during the trial? That information is presented to the jury, what we’ve just heard. That, you know, claims of an I.D., right? So the best version of this, which is to say, not the real version of this.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: is presented. So Greg Elking is, you know, you want to presume he would be the most important witness or one of the two most important witnesses. So he testifies that he occasionally buys drugs from Marcus Boyd. On the day of the murder, he went there because he owed him money, went to see if he could also ask if he could get a ride in the future. No answer at the door. He hangs out and waits for Boyd and the girlfriend, Leslie Williams, to arrive. He says that as they’re hanging out on the porch, two men pull up. They are, as we reported, earlier, they’re identities are concealed. He talks about one of them having a lazy eye.


Jessa: That’s kind of the first time we really hear that. It’s not part of the initial description or I.D.


Nick: Right. No mention of that had been made prior and so, Greg identifies Johnson then and there in the courtroom as the man with the lazy eye. So he claims that the other gunman pins down Marcus Boyd and shot him, that the lazy eyed gunman then shot Boyd, as well, and there were five or six shots fired total, he claimed, but he couldn’t say how many came from each of the two people. He didn’t call the police that night, he said, because he was scared. He heard the police were looking for him and he eventually..


Jessa: Came forward, is his version.


Nick: That’s right.


Jessa: There was also testimony by the snitch, Mock, that he wasn’t really getting any special consideration or favors. He was basically just trying to do the right thing. He was cross-examined about his prior criminal history, testified that he had three felony convictions. We are going to later learn that he had much more of a criminal history than that, but that was the testimony at trial. The defense countered this by number one: introducing the alibi, number 2: arguing that these people were never in the same holding cell or really in any position where Mock could’ve ever overheard them, and trying to dispute the eyewitness testimony based on the bad line-ups and the..


Nick: Right. And there was some acknowledgement of the whole mess about the line-ups.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: Right. That did come in through Elking somewhat, but he offered explanations for why he wasn’t available, why he did or did not identify people. And you know, reasons that must have been, at least, somewhat credible to the jury for reason, I mean, look, we’re not telling you a secret here when we say that there was conviction because nothing else would’ve happened. We wouldn’t be here now if there had not been a conviction.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: Yes. So there, the defense makes a legitimate closing argument referencing the problems that were revealed to the jury during the trial. They didn’t argue about the alibi at great length. And his, Johnson’s lady friend had testified about that. So the jury goes out, I think after only two days of trial.


Jessa: Correct. A short time for a homicide.


Nick: Especially with two defendants. That’s a really brief trial.


Jessa: Only Johnson. Campbell was tried after Johnson.


Nick: There’s more to go through there.


Jessa: Agreed.


Nick: So, the jury goes out after only two days of trial and deliberates for about an hour and a half before returning guilty verdicts against Lamar Johnson, both for the homicide and this additional charge of armed criminal action. The focus, of course, is the homicide.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: Several months later, he is sentenced by the judge who presided over the trial, to life imprisonment without any possibility of release.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: Okay. That’s what initially happened. Then begins Johnson’s initial series of appeals. His direct appeals.


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Nick: Indeed. So thank you to our friends at Care/of. Okay. So we were at the point that..


Jessa: Where the appeals start. And basically, more or less, from jump street, we start to have problems with the evidence at trial. Right?


Nick: Right. That topic is introduced, is one of the bases for appeal. One of the things we’re gonna learn in this case is, well, we’re gonna learn a few things. One thing is that appellate procedure, criminal appellate procedure is complicated.


Jessa: Yeah.


Nick: And it varies state to state. It varies from state courts to federal courts and it is complicated. Jessa and I are not appellate attorneys. We are trial attorneys. Those are two different things, although there certainly are practitioners who practice trial work and appellate work. We are not. We are trial lawyers only. But we are going to walk you and ourselves through this. So he is convicted. He raises nine claims initially on appeal of ineffective assistance of counsel. He was granted a hearing on those claims. One thing that can happen is, if you raise claims and they don’t even reach the threshold level of sort of merit, things, some things can be denied without any hearing at all. And ineffective assistance of counsel, at least here in Wisconsin, is such a thing. He got a hearing on that, so, that’s a hearing held in the trial court, an evidentiary hearing where he and appellate counsel attempt to put on evidence demonstrating that his trial counsel was constitutional deficient.


Jessa: He also, about six months thereafter, filed another motion for a new trial. This time alleging newly discovered evidence of innocence. And the evidence that he and his counsel collected at the time were letters from his co-defendant to Johnson, stating that Johnson was innocent and the fact that the prosecutors had failed to disclose the snitch’s complete criminal history. So he was able to obtain that information as early as October of ‘98.


Nick: Of ‘96.


Jessa: I’m sorry. ‘96.


Nick: Indeed. So he’s got two different, sort of, routes of appeal, bases of appeal there, or he’s trying to. One is a kind of ineffective assistance of counsel. Separately, he is claiming that he’s entitled to a new trial based on newly discovered evidence, and there are bases for authority under Missouri law for those two things, okay? Statutes on the books in Missouri. He loses, he’s denied on both of those at the initial level. One, he just doesn’t prove to the court’s satisfaction meeting the constitutional standard under Strickland that he received ineffective assistance. On the other one, and this is actually long term more interesting, his motion that he’s entitled to a new trial based on newly discovered evidence is denied in part because the court didn’t have jurisdiction to consider it because it was filed too late. It was untimely. And what that is about is, the statute that authorizes, that creates the authority for an appeal based on newly discovered evidence has to be filed, wait for it, within 15 or, in some circumstances, 25 days after the jury verdict. That blows my mind but let that sink in. That means, if you want to say “Hey. There’s newly discovered evidence of my innocence or that calls the verdict into doubt”, you can only file that appeal in the state of Missouri, within 15 or maybe 25 days of the jury verdict. That would suggest that somebody out there thinks that new evidence is going to be discovered in, basically, the immediate aftermath of the jury’s verdict. I don’t know why.




Nick: That type of appellate relief, that type of appeal is denied for the first time on those grounds, that it was too late, so sad, too bad, you’re out of time, you missed it, you can’t do that. Okay. He appealed on both of those issues combined. They consolidated those two different grounds for appellate relief in 1998, to the intermediate court of appeals in Missouri, and he lost. Those claims are denied in 1999. Okay. The case is not taken by the Missouri Supreme Court. That’s the end of the road for him in Missouri state court. So then, pro se, meaning by himself unrepresented, he filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court in Missouri in 2003. We will talk more about what this means, but for the moment, that’s what we’re gonna say about that. That motion was denied. It didn’t pass a threshold test which is, when you seek habeas relief, you’ve gotta do all sorts of things. One of the things you have to do is demonstrate that there was a pretty substantial, substantial evidence that you had a constitutional right denied or violated by the state court system.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: Right? Okay. That happens. He then files, again pro se, in 2004, a writ for habeas corpus in the state court, attempting to present new evidence of actual innocence, based on more letters and affidavits signed by witnesses or people involved in the case and including the people that allege were the actual perpetrators. And he also claimed that the state’s only eyewitness, Greg Elking, perjured himself. Straight up perjured himself when he identified Johnson in court. Also alleged that the state to disclose material that they’re constitutionally and statutorily required to do so, that his own counsel failed to investigate, and do important things. That motion was denied, that petition, I should say, was also denied in 2004.


Jessa: And I do just want to flag that the affidavits confessing to this were not just Campbell, the original co-defendant. There was another guy that came forward, last name of Howard, who also confessed and signed a sworn affidavit, claiming he was involved in this homicide, despite never having been charged with or having been convicted of this crime. So pretty big inculpatory statement by Howard when he would, you know, there’s no statute of limitation on murder. So, like, he’s just confessing to a life sentence.


Nick: Right.


Jessa: Under oath.


Nick: Yeah, one would obviously want to investigate the credibility of that.


Jessa: Oh sure.


Nick: But a person confessing to a homicide is a pretty big deal, of course.


Jessa: Despite this, and he makes constitutional claims saying, you know, ineffective assistance, failure to investigate by trial counsel, and failure to disclose the full criminal history of Mock, etc etc.


Nick: So, again, some of this is new or newish. Some of it has been raised before.


Jessa: He files again with the circuit court of Mississippi County, an adjacent county, alleging the same things he alleged in the previous state habeas. That is, again, denied.


Nick: Right. So that’s his second attempt at habeas relief within the context of the state court system, which would be a similar thing, basically alleging that your constitutional rights have been violated and they were not addressed in, sort of, your direct appeal within the state court system. Okay. That loses for a second time. It just doesn’t go anywhere. His petition is denied. In 2005, he files another pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus to the Supreme Court of Missouri, raising the same claims that he had brought in the two petitions that he filed in Missouri state court. Those are called Rule 91 petitions, and that, again, refers to the statutory authority within the state of Missouri that creates the authority for these types of appeals. And let’s remember that. Let’s flag those notions and those words because the authority to do something, the legal authority to bring an appeal, is really one of the enormous issues that we’re going to get to when we get to the legal analysis here.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: Okay. So that was denied in 2005, a couple months he filed it. So the Supreme Court simply denies his petition. That, for a while, is the end of the road for him. That, for a number of years, is the end of his attempts to appeal his conviction. In 2018..


Jessa: So he sits for over a decade.


Nick: Oh, he sits for, at that point, 13 years.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: He sits, but in 2018, his case is taken up by the Innocence Project that covers this area, the Midwest Innocence Project. And they begin reinvestigating this entire matter, a really really really thorough investigation. And they bring their findings in 2018 to the brand new, recently created, Conviction Integrity Unit that the newly elected Circuit Attorney for the city of St Louis has created.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: And this new head prosecutor ran as a reformer, ran as a progressive prosecutor, and won. And out with the old, in with the new. And this, the creation of a Conviction Integrity Unit is consistent with, sort of, you know, what she campaigned on.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: To be a reformer. So the Midwest Innocence Project, well, not only Midwest Innocence Projects. He’s got other lawyers working for him, as well, brings the fruits of their investigation for CIU of St Louis, and by the way, this is one of the ways that this is exactly supposed to work.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: Right? CIUs exist, I mean, they can’t know about things unless somebody makes them aware of them. So perhaps the most common way, probably the most common way that a CIU is going to become aware of a case in which there might be problems is by someone from the defense side bringing it to their attention.


Jessa: And that could be the defendant writing a letter from prison. It could be a lawyer. It could be a family member. It could be anybody.


Nick: It could be anybody. Now, in this instance, a pretty persuasive case was brought to them already because a team of really talented excellent lawyers had been conducting an investigation of their own, and brought them a pretty well put together case already.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: And they found a receptive audience in this, I mean, at this point, for a moment in time, there was sort of serendipity, right? Their investigation was coming together at a time when you had a brand new elected DA who was willing to listen. That probably would not have been the case in the past. I think we can rest assured that that would not have been the case in the past. So the CIU then begins reviewing the information that was brought to them by Lamar Johnson’s attorneys, and begins, sort of, collaborating with them and investigating as well. Reviewing all of this information. And what, I’m not sure where exactly we want to go at this point, but what ultimately happens, they actually discover more things. Once they begin working together, they then discover more than what we’ve already talked about. And so what ultimately happens is they put together a claim that involves some of the evidence that had been brought up before, raised before as a basis for a new trial, right? Recantations or new confessions, claims by other witnesses, but they’re sort of bolstered by new information that they have uncovered.


Jessa: And what is that? A few things. Number one: they conclude that Elking had been paid over $4,000 state affiliated individuals as part of his testimony. Number two: the complete criminal history of the jailhouse snitch was not disclosed. They ultimately find that he had over 200 pages of criminal history, and he had acted basically as a professional informant before. In fact, in very eerily similar circumstances. They find that the police actually fabricated witness accounts and provided a motive, meaning the drug thing that didn’t really exist. There was a failure to conduct a thorough and competent investigation. There was the use of improper and unconstitutional police investigation and there was a presentation of false and misleading evidence to the jury and prosecutorial misconduct that further prejudiced the defendant and rendered the result of the trial fundamentally unfair. Those are a lot of big allegations to come out of a DA’s office.


Nick: A lot. And what it really alleges is sort of, the system breaking down in sort of all aspects, right? Alleges, you know, bad decisions by the trial court, by the judge.


Jessa: By the police.


Nick: Misconduct by the police, misconduct by the prosecutors. And this is the, also multiple ways. The cops are doing a number of different things, each one of them would have been problematic. Right? The investigation was four or five days long. That’s it. They didn’t do all sorts of things that they should have done. They did do all sorts of things they should not have done, like, oh gee, I don’t know, pressure witnesses to say that a certain person was the shooter. Evidence wasn’t, Brady material wasn’t disclosed. This is, like, a systemwide failure. This is the opposite of what’s supposed to happen.


Jessa: There’s at least some suggestion that the police told Elking what numbers the people were in the line-ups. There’s a lot, basically all the things go wrong. And in fact, the CIU reviews these confessions of Howard and Campbell and concludes that they’re credible and able to be corroborated by existing evidence.


Nick: Not only that, but, separate from Elking recanting his claims that he made at trial, his identification of Johnson and everything else, separate from that, the CIU unit determines that his identification was unreliable even independent of that.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: Right? That it was inappropriate, it was, they call it an error in judgement. We can talk about what that means, but they call it an error in judgement for the attorney who prosecuted the case to even put that evidence to the jury for them to consider at all. Okay. So let’s consider what’s going on here. Again. This is, a unit within the prosecutor’s office, the same entity, the same office that prosecuted the case in 1995 making determinations that the prosecution was totally flawed.


Jessa: Right.


Nick: In many ways, including pointing the blame at themselves or itself in as much as they said the people who represented this office back at the time did things that they should not have done. Okay.


Jessa: And that’s because, you know, Elking later says “The police told me what to say. They also told me that they could help me relocate financially if i was cooperative.”


Nick: Which they did.


Jessa: He and his ex-wife ultimately sign affidavits saying they received payments. There were multiple requests by the defense for a record of any type of payment history, all of which were denied in various ways in 2009 and 2010, but nonetheless, there they are.


Nick: Right. And, again, there was, Jessa referred to this. The amount of information about these supposed jailhouse snitches’ criminal history was really substantial. And of course, that is of enormous import because, what is the value or lack of value of a purported jailhouse snitch’s testimony relies entirely on the credibility of the assertions that he’s made. Right? The jury has to believe that he is telling the truth and there’s always going to be significant reason to doubt that, at least up front, right? You have a person who is also incarcerated, who presumably has a criminal record. Some people will find such people lacking credibility simply because of that. And of course, there’s always going to be some incentive perceived or real or whatever to assist the government in that situation. And so, the credibility of all witnesses is vitally important. It’s extremely important, it’s everything for that type of witness. And the government attempted to bolster his credibility by asking him questions, and this is what you would do. I mean, you would have to present some version of this, but saying things like, demonstrating that he didn’t have a motive to lie and that he was an honest guy and all that kind of stuff, knowing that they had not disclosed a lot of information to the defense that would have been relevant to the cross-examination, and as a result, to a jury’s consideration, evaluation, assessment of the credibility of what he was saying.


Jessa: Like the payments he received, which by the way, the state kept a fucking ledger of.


Nick: Right.


Jessa: And didn’t disclose. The fact that they dismissed several traffic tickets for him, despite his testimony that he got no actual benefit in cases, the fact that he had written in his initial letter to law enforcement and the DA that he was hoping for a pardon or some other additional consideration. The multiple additional convictions.


Nick: Right. There was evidence in this investigation that the purported motive was fabricated and bogus, and that the information that Mr Boyd’s girlfriend originally provided was not credible and not reliable. So this investigation that was done really really really really thoroughly now, decades after the trial, was very comprehensive. Very thorough. It resulted, ultimately, in a decision by the newly elected Circuit Attorney, the DA, the head attorney, the head prosecutor, they decided that this conviction was illegitimate and they joined with Lamar Johnson’s attorneys in seeking to overturn the conviction.


Jessa: Yes.


Nick: Which is, on one hand, we talked about this topic somewhat in the last couple episodes. On one hand, it is remarkable in the sense that it historically doesn’t happen very often at all. It is becoming somewhat less remarkable in as much as prosecutors in some places have chosen to create these units for the purpose of, when they deem it appropriate, trying to correct the system. By the way. This doesn’t happen very often. This isn’t some willy nilly let’s burn the system down thing. Larry Krasner, right?


Jessa: Right.


Nick: Someone that both you and I admire.


Jessa: Our favorite guy.


Nick: He has, he created such a unit, and staffed it with five full time attorneys. Brought in, hired an attorney from Texas who had experience in just this kind of stuff to head that. So he’s devoted significant resources to this. They have denied, I believe, 96% of the cases brought to them. So they’re not just running around, overturning the system.


Jessa: Right. These are a very narrow selection of the people that apply for this consideration.


Nick: That’s right.


Jessa: So where we’re gonna leave you today is, the CIU does it “right”, concludes that there are serious problems, writes a lengthy report, which Nick and I have referenced repeatedly throughout this show. We didn’t cite to it, but that’s where a lot of our factual information is coming from here.


Nick: Right. We actually probably should say that now. The recitation of most, if not all, of the factual narrative of the case came largely from that document, this very long report that the Circuit Attorney’s office issued at the conclusion of their investigation.


Jessa: Which they filed in conjunction with a motion for a new trial that was joined by Lamar Johnson’s defense counsel.


Nick: Right.


Jessa: Both sides of the team. Both sides of the dispute jointly file a motion with the trial court judge saying “This was a problem”.


Nick: Right. And the motion they actually file seeks a new trial. Now, a new trial would entail overturning the verdict because you can’t try a case that already has a case. So they asked, they sought to overturn the verdict, vacate the verdict, and grant a new trial. And so we’ll leave you there. I think we should stop there cause this, we’re now going to get to, what you and I think of as 


Jessa: The crazy shit.


Nick: The meaty stuff. And all sorts of things are illustrated and demonstrated by what we will get to next, and what we’ll get to next is how the system in Missouri responds to this effort, this jointly filed motion to overturn this man’s conviction, based on a conclusion reached by both the prosecutors and the defense attorneys, that this man is.. Their assertion is that he’s actually innocent, not simply that the evidence no longer supports a conviction. The assertion is, he is actually innocent. You would think that would kind of be all she wrote. Not so.


Jessa: So come back next time. In the meantime, I’m Jessa.


Nick: I’m Nick.


Jessa: And this was Getting Off.