7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Case Name: United States of America v. Lonel Johnson, Jr.
Case No.: 21-2417
Officials: Easterbrook, Hamilton, and Kirsch, Circuit Judges.
Focus: Sixth Amendment Speedy Trial Rights
A jury convicted appellant Lonel L. Johnson, Jr. of possessing more than 50 grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, and two counts of possessing a firearm as a felon. Johnson appeals these convictions on several grounds.
Johnson argues first that the entire indictment against him should be dismissed because his Sixth Amendment speedy trial rights were violated by the delay between his arrest on state charges and his federal trial. Johnson also challenges the drug-trafficking convictions on several grounds stemming from the government’s late disclosure of a recording of a proffer statement Johnson had made upon his arrest, on condition that it not be used against him except for purposes of impeachment. The Seventh Circuit rejects these challenges. Finally, Johnson points out that an officer testified improperly to an admission from the proffer during the government’s case in chief and that the government’s supposed fix of the error only made matters worse. The Seventh Circuit agrees that the testimony and supposed fix amounted to an error, but it was harmless in view of the overwhelming evidence of guilt.