Lewis and Asher Johnson: Their Convictions a Grievous Miscarriage of Justice
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
America’s gulag prison system is the shame of the nation. It overflows with innocent victims, wrongfully punished for crimes they didn’t commit – many politically imprisoned, others for offenses too minor to matter.
The same is true for Britain, countless victims unjustly imprisoned despite no involvement in criminality. Below is a disturbing example.
On November 2, 2012, Asher Johnson, aged-24 and friends went to an east London pub to drink, socialize and play pool.
His younger brother Lewis, aged-21, arrived later on his own. An altercation occurred outside the pub between Asher and Thomas Cudjoe, lasting around half a minute.
Lewis observed what happened without getting involved. Both brothers then left the scene. Jerome Green stabbed Cudjoe to death in the driver’s seat of a Ford Focus near the pub.
Friend of the Johnsons Courtney Mitchell prevented Cudjoe from fleeing the scene after the alternation ended. Reece Garwood was involved in what happened – before the stabbing occurred.
All five men were charged with murder under what’s known as joint enterprise or joint criminal enterprise.
It’s common law legal doctrine, imputing criminal liability for all participants allegedly involved in a criminal enterprise.
For example, it’s used to hold all persons involved in a riot who knew, or may have known, one individual had a knife and might use it, despite others involved having no weapons, and no involvement in or intention to commit a crime.
It renders guilt by association, individuals held liable for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, despite innocence of any crime.
Lewis and Asher Johnson had nothing to do with Cudjoe’s stabbing death. CCTV evidence showed Green solely responsible for the killing.
Both Johnson brothers left the scene before the crime was committed. Yet they were charged, prosecuted and convicted of murder – each receiving a minimum 16-and-a-half year sentence.
During court proceedings, Green’s sole responsibility came out in evidence presented – no one else involved in the crime, the Johnson brothers not there when it happened.
On July 26, 2013, jurors found Green, Garwood and Mitchell guilty of murder. Later the same day, they rendered the same verdict against Lewis and Asher Johnson.
The judge rushed them to act quickly, saying he had somewhere else to be at 4:00PM – otherwise they’d be a retrial for both brothers.
Jurors got little guidance and had no knowledge of joint enterprise guidelines.
Jan Cunliffe co-founded Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association (JENGbA).
Its mission statement says: “We campaign on behalf of, and with, those wrongfully convicted. We’re campaigning to reform legal abuse by Joint Enterprise.”
On February 18, 2016, Britain’s Supreme Court ruled the Joint Enterprise took “a wrong turn” in 1984 – while upholding its general principle as justified.
It acknowledged misuse of the law for decades, leading to thousands of wrongful convictions. Its ruling corrected the law’s misinterpretation, not the law itself, having no place in free societies.
Britain’s High Court ruling means individuals cannot be convicted of murder unless they assisted or encouraged it, making them complicit in the crime.
At the same time, the court said the law’s reinterpretation doesn’t affect thousands of cases having exhausted their appeals in vain.
It’s ruling specifically said “(w)here a conviction has been arrived at by faithfully applying the law as it stood at the time, it can be set aside only by seeking exceptional leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal out of time.”
“That court has power to grant such leave, and may do so if substantial injustice be demonstrated, but it will not do so simply because the law applied has now been declared to have been mistaken.”
That’s not good enough. The Johnson brothers exhausted their appeals. Their counsel calls their wrongful convictions a violation of Article 7 of the European Human Rights Convention, stating “no punishment (is permissible) without law.”
JENGbA’s co-founder Jan Cunliffe said her group “will not stop fighting, (nor) leave potentially innocent men, women and children to languish in prison because a court 30 years ago took a ‘wrong turn.’ “
“If we are all truly innocent until proven guilty, but what was once ‘guilt’ has been wrong all along, then we cannot sit quietly and let the injustice pass us by.”
“It may be inconvenient for the court of appeal to have to clean up the mess left by previous courts, but if injustice has been caused then obviously this must be corrected and without delay.”
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”