Messenger: Legal Scholars to Missouri Court of Appeals: Give Lamar Johnson his day in court.


Professor Bruce Green co-authored a brief signed by 106 other renowned legal ethics scholars. The amicus brief submitted to the Missouri Court of Appeals, urges the judges to side with St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner in her attempt to seek a new trial for Lamar Johnson who was found guilty in a 1994 murder case.

When it comes to Lamar Johnson and his fight for a new trial, there is a story in the numbers.

Let’s start with 106.

That’s the number of renowned legal ethics scholars who signed an amicus brief to the Missouri Court of Appeals urging the judges to determine that St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner acted completely within the “best traditions” of the exercise of appropriate prosecutorial power in seeking a new trial for Johnson.

When Gardner’s Conviction Integrity Unit — along with the Midwest Innocence Project — determined that there was significant evidence of perjury and prosecutorial misconduct in Johnson’s 1995 murder conviction and that the past 24 years in prison have been a “manifest injustice,” she filed a motion for a new trial, so that Johnson could, ultimately, be set free.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hogan punted. She implied Gardner might have a conflict of interest and appointed the attorney general to represent the state. She said she had no authority to set Johnson free even if he was innocent. Hogan didn’t hear the motion.

Now, 106 legal scholars are telling the appeals court that Hogan got it wrong.

There is no conflict, they say, and even if there was one, it doesn’t disqualify Gardner’s office, particularly without a hearing in which evidence would be presented.

The law professors are from Northwestern, Stanford, Duke, Columbia, Fordham, Georgetown, Washington University, St. Louis University, the University of Missouri, and dozens of the top law schools in the country.

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