“I always had faith.” —Jerome Johnson, upon being released after 30 years in prison.
Jerome Johnson was convicted in 1988 of being a participant in the shooting of a man at a Baltimore liquor store. No physical evidence connected him to the incident, and the case against him was far weaker than the case against his co-defendants.
Jerome always proclaimed his innocence and attempted to challenge his conviction in court more than 15 times over the years. His luck changed when well-known defense attorney Nancy Forster began representing him. Her initial investigation made clear that Jerome had a strong innocence claim, and she approached the Baltimore CIU about the case earlier this year. The CIU, in turn, approached MAIP because of MAIP’s investigative expertise.
Although Jerome was convicted nearly 30 years ago, the problems that led to his conviction are still present today. Those problems include reluctant witnesses, police pressure on vulnerable witnesses that can result in false statements, the failure of the state to disclose evidence that could help prove innocence, and a police officer who lied about the existence of that evidence.
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