30 Years for One Joint!
Lee Otis Johnson - a black organizer for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee who has been in prison for the past three-and-a-half years - will ask this week that his conviction for marijuana possession be overturned by a Houston federal judge.
Johnson is presently serving a 30 year sentence in the Tennesses Colony Prison in Texas after being convicted of giving one marijuana cigarette to an undercover police officer. Texas law is particularly tough on grass offenders, and Johnson, a controversial organizer in the black community, received the maximum 30-year sentence after an undercover policeman testified in 1968 that Johnson gave him a single joint, after he had folIowed Johnson for two months during which the only crime the black revolutionary committed was to give away the joint.
Johnson's defense team is planning to call approximately 15 witnesses this week in front of U.S. District Judge Carl Bue. The defense team is asking that the 30-year conviction be overturned on the grounds that Johnson was not given a fair trial when he was convicted in 1968; attorneys for Johnson insist that he should have been granted a change of venue during his original trial since adverse publicity made it impossible for him to get a fair hearing in Houston n 1968.
The federal court hearing is scheduled to begin in Houston with pretrial motions on Monday (January 3rd) and is expected to conclude on Thursday - Earth News