In April of 2013, we wrote about the successful appeal of Shawn D. Gardner, a Flint man who had been convicted of murdering Lennon Johnson Jr. outside a Flint nightclub. Johnson’s conviction was reversed by the Michigan Court of Appeals based on ineffective counsel during his 2011 trial.
The appeals court determined that Mark Clement, Johnson’s defense attorney at trial, did not provide his client effective counsel. Polygraph evidence of a witness who pinned the fatal shooting on Ricco Holmes, a man allegedly involved in the murder with Gardner, was allowed at trial. Clement did not object to the polygraph evidence. Gardner was ultimately convicted of second-degree murder in March of 2011 and sentenced to 80 to 120 years in prison.
Gardner’s new trial began on February 4; he is being represented by Michael Ewing. Johnson’s former attorney said regarding the polygraph statement presented by prosecutors that there was nothing he could have done, the statement was already out there.
Following the appeals court’s ruling, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said that he was disappointed in the results, and that Johnson’s conviction was reversed by the appeals court due to Clement’s actions.
It will be interesting to see how the new trial progresses, and whether Johnson is once again convicted for the murder of Lennon Johnson Jr.
Michigan criminal appeals attorneys understand how rare it is to have a conviction overturned by the Michigan Court of Appeals. Johnson and his new defense counsel have now been given a second chance to reach a different outcome, and perhaps gain Johnson’s freedom. The appeals court rarely reverses a conviction, however the majority of cases involve ineffective assistance of counsel.
If you have been wrongly convicted or feel that errors were made in the legal process which could have affected the outcome of your case, consult with a Michigan criminal appeals lawyer who is highly experienced and knowledgeable in the appeals process. The attorney you choose could make the difference between your freedom, and spending a lifetime behind bars.