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Donovan Johnson

Other Cook County, IL Exonerations for Weapon Possession/Sale
On December 9, 2011, Chicago police arrested 19-year-old Donovan Johnson and charged him with aggravated unlawful use of a firearm.

On May 7, 2012, Johnson pled guilty to the charge in Cook County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

In September 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in People v. Aguilar that the portion of the statute under which Johnson had been convicted was unconstitutional. The statute said that a person committed the offense of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon when a person “carries on or about his person or in any vehicle or concealed on or about his person except when on his land or in his abode or fixed place of business any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or other firearm and the firearm is uncased, loaded and immediately accessible.”

The court held that this portion of the statute violated the right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

In 2020, attorney Joel Flaxman filed a motion to vacate Johnson’s conviction based on the Aguilar ruling. On September 16, 2020, the motion was granted. Johnson’s conviction was vacated and the charge was dismissed.

Flaxman filed a motion for a certificate of innocence. On October 2, 2020, Chief Cook County Criminal Court Judge Leroy Martin Jr. granted the motion.

Johnson subsequently filed a claim with the Illinois Court of Claims seeking compensation.

On January 21, 2021, the court of claims awarded Johnson $45,600 in compensation, with $5,600 of the award going to Flaxman for attorney’s fees.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 2/21/2022
Last Updated: 2/21/2022
Most Serious Crime:Weapon Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2011
Sentence:3 years
Age at the date of reported crime:19
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No