Journey For Equal Justice In Valdosta, GA. The Death of Kendrick Johnson and Recent Judicial Complaints
(A note. Highlights in blue are embedded links to news sources. Clicking on them opens the source in a new tab.)
It’s been a long journey for the parents of Kendrick Johnson. In January 2013, the 17-year old’s body was found in a gym mat in the high school he attended. Local authorities ruled the death an accident. Kendrick’s parents hired a pathologist who found that Kendrick died of blunt force trauma.
To add insult to injury, all of Kendrick’s internal organs were missing, replaced with newspaper.
In April 2013, Kendrick’s parents Jackie, Kenneth Johnson, and 5 family members protested outside of the courthouse. The protest was designed to pressure the local sheriff’s office to release the investigative file of Kendrick’s death. They were arrested. In January 2015, they were convicted of civil disobedience. Their sentence was suspended for 12-months as long as they didn’t get arrested for civil disobedience in the next year.
Judge Mark Mitchell allowed cameras in the courtroom during the trial. He explains his order in the first 3 minutes of the below video.
In October 2013, federal prosecutors announced an investigation in Kendrick’s death.
Attorney Benjamin Crump and attorney Chevene King joined to represent Kendrick’s parents. Attorney Crump, licensed to practice law in the State of Florida, was granted special permission by the court to represent the Johnsons in the initial pleadings to petition the court for release of surveillance recordings from Lowndes High School. The State Bar of Georgia entered no objection.
From the time that certain people who hold to White Supremacist ideologies found that attorney Benjamin Crump was representing the Johnsons, they publicly noted an effort to prevent him from doing so by having him denied what is called pro hac vice approval or be threatened with the charge of the unlicensed practice of law.
In October 2015, attorney Crump notified the Johnsons that the court had not decided on his application to represent them in the wrongful death lawsuit and he therefore, could not participate in any meaningful way with attorney King in the strategy, the drafting or the filing of any pleadings.
Kendrick’s parents and their attorney Chevene King have been back and forth from federal to state court and back again. All seven judges in Georgia’s Southern Judicial Circuit recused themselves from presiding over a lawsuit against the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office. The judges also recused themselves from hearing a lawsuit against the Lowndes County School District filed by CNN.
In January 2015, Kenneth and Jackie Johnson filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit. It ended up before Lowndes County Superior Court Judge Richard Porter.
In March 2016, Kendrick’s parents dismissed their lawsuit. Their attorney, Chevene King, said the family filed for “voluntary dismissal without prejudice” which means they can re-file the case at a later date. The dismissal came after Judge Porter denied the DOJ’s motion to intervene and stay the case pending the conclusion of their civil rights investigation.
Attorney King told CNN that the suit’s dismissal was a strategic move to allow federal investigators more time to gather evidence in the case.
What happened then was that multiple defendants filed motions for Kenneth and Jackie Johnson, and their attorney Chevene King, to pay their attorney fees. The combined total is more than $900,000. The defendants include Brian and Brandon Bell, whose parents have filed a counter-suit against Kendrick’s parents for defamation.
On June 20, 2016, the DOJ announced that they were not filing criminal charges in the death of Kendrick Johnson.
“The Johnsons affirmed that investigators told them the initial autopsy conducted by the state medical examiner was wrong and the autopsy performed by the independent pathologist they hired, which indicates their son’s death was the result of blunt force trauma, was correct.”
13wmaz has an informative report regarding the DOJ’s decision. It reports that the DOJ did not enter a finding that Kendrick died by accident. Kendrick’s parents were told by the DOJ that they not only had to prove who murdered Kendrick, but that he was murdered in violation of his civil rights.
On August 17, 2016, Kendrick’s parents filed a new wrongful death lawsuit in federal court. Two days later, according to Atlanta Black Star, on August 19, 2016, Lowndes County Superior Court Judge Richard Porter ordered Kenneth and Jackie Johnson to pay the legal fees of Brian and Brandon Bell, the brothers whom Kendrick’s parents accuse of killing their son. Judge Porter delayed ruling on an amount. Since August 2016, Jackie and Kenneth Johnson, along with their attorney Chevene King, have been in and out of court waiting for judge Porter to enter a ruling on an amount of fees that the Johnsons owe to the defendants.
We now come to October, 2016.
On October 17, 2016, Bobby Worthy, National President of the Justice League United, released a press advisory announcing the filing of a Color of Law Complaint with the Valdosta FBI, and a complaint with the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission.
This is the first that most people heard about Judge Porter’s media blackout.
The complaint alleges that On August 8, 2016; September 12. 2016; October 3, 2016; October 4, 2016; and October 5, 2016, Judge Richard Porter fell asleep 6 or more times during each of the hearings while witnesses were being questioned by attorney Chevene King.
Mr. Worthy’s complaint also alleges that Judge Porter shows favoritism to the white attorneys representing defendants and allows them to disparage the character of attorney King. Judge Porter, according to the complaint, rushes attorney King, not allowing him a fair and proper opportunity to conduct and complete his examinations.
The complaint conveys that Judge Porter does not allow cameras in the courtroom to avoid his unethical and prejudicial behavior from being recorded.
There is a comparison because Judge Mark Mitchell allowed public access to the courtroom, including the media and camera, when Kenneth and Jackie Johnson were on trial for civil disobedience. The hearings to determine an amount of legal fees that have been requested is a matter of public interest, but Judge Porter has a media blackout in the courtroom.
The documents prepared and submitted by Bobby Worthy are:
You can click on each one to read the document.
For future reference, the complaint to the Judicial Qualifications Commission has been added to the right-side border of the blog under “Documents”. For more history on court proceedings and related content, George Boston Rhynes has worked tirelessly producing videos. His Youtube channel has been added to the right-side border of the blog under “Videos.”
Posted on 10/31/2016, in Black lives matter, Kendrick Johnson and tagged Bobby Worthy, George Boston Rhynes, hearings, Jackie Johnson, Judge Richard Porter, judicial complaint, Judicial Qualifications Commission, Kendrick Johnson, Kenneth Johnson, legal fees. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.