The ACLU of Missouri firmly agrees with the Missouri Court of Appeals decision overturning Michael Johnson’s unconstitutional conviction and 30-year sentence.
“While the Court of Appeals correctly recognized that Johnson’s conviction was based on violation of his right to a fair trial, that is just the beginning of the trouble with this entire case,” said ACLU of Missouri Legal Director Tony Rothert. “The law under which he is charged is based on outdated science from a time when HIV policy was based on panic. The prosecution used that fear, along with racism and homophobia, to get a conviction.”
In 2015, a St. Charles jury sentenced 23-year-old Johnson, a young, black gay man living with HIV, to over three decades in prison for allegedly exposing consensual sexual partners to HIV.
The ACLU of Missouri, together with other organizations including the Center for HIV Law and Policy, filed an amicus curiae brief in Johnson’s defense in April. Lawrence S. Lustberg and Avam Frey of Gibbons P.C., Newark, were lead counsel.