“Exposing unlawful executions will help innocent people on death row and hold prosecuting attorneys accountable.”
~C. Christensen, Co-founder of LEJ Foundation
The LEJ foundation was created in 2008 to expose unlawful executions.
The inspiration for the LEJ Foundation came from the unjust execution by the State of Texas of Lonnie Earl Johnson, which took place on July 24, 2007. Six weeks before his death, Lonnie’s lawyer and private investigator found missing evidence contained within police reports at the Harris County District Attorney’s office that supported his claim of self-defense. His family and I were relieved beyond belief that we could now prove the DA hid exculpatory evidence that proved Lonnie was the target of two aggressors. This evidence, which revealed the aggressors’ motives, was not heard at Lonnie’s jury trial. Professor/Attorney Jim Marcus of the University of Houston in Austin, who oversaw Lonnie’s last appeal, said that if the jury had heard this evidence, Lonnie would have been found innocent or guilty of a much lesser crime.
Four days before Lonnie’s execution date, the Criminal Court of Appeals and the 5th Circuit Court said the newly discovered evidence was not new. We believed we had successfully proven that Lonnie’s constitutional rights to a fair trial were violated but the courts believed his defense attorneys had access to this information and therefore our evidence was not “newly discovered,” a criteria that had to be met in order to warrant a stay of execution.
We supplied the Judges with affidavits from every one of Lonnie’s attorneys since 1990, each stating that these police reports were not given to them. Lonnie’s defense attorneys asked in discovery for all pertinent information prior to trial and they were denied the police reports that we found 14 years later. This was a clear violation of Lonnie’s constitutional rights. Finally, the Supreme Court declined a stay without citing a reason and Lonnie was killed.
Texas Moratorium Network (TMN) is a non-profit organization with the primary goal of mobilizing statewide support for a moratorium on executions in Texas. Significant death penalty reform in Texas, including a moratorium on executions, is a viable goal if the public is educated on the death penalty system and is encouraged to contact their elected representatives to urge passage of moratorium legislation.
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